Niederauer urges people to stop ‘hurling names’ and ‘disagree without being disagreeable’
SAN FRANCISCO — San Francisco’s Roman Catholic archbishop says he invited leaders of the Mormon Church to get involved in the campaign to pass a gay marriage ban in California this year at the request of his fellow bishops.
Archbishop George Niederauer wrote in a column to be published in a diocesan newspaper Dec. 5 that he wanted to address the "many misunderstandings and hard feelings" resulting from Proposition 8′s adoption.
It’s the first time the archbishop has commented on how churches organized to help push through the initiative, which overturned the California Supreme Court’s decision to legalize same-sex nuptials. Mormon leaders had given a similar account of how its members, who represent about 2 percent of the California residents with a religious affiliation, came to play such a prominent role in promoting Proposition 8.
Niederauer said that after the state’s Catholic bishops endorsed the measure, staff from the California Catholic Conference told him The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints had actively supported a similar ballot initiative eight years ago.
Niederauer, who previously served as bishop of Salt Lake City, said he sent a letter to Mormon leaders.
"I did write to them and they urged the members of their church, especially those in California, to become involved," he said.
By some estimates, contributions from Mormon supporters accounted for 45 percent of the $38 million raised by the Yes on 8 campaign.
In the month since the election, Mormon temples around the country have become targets of protest, and some gay rights activists have called for a boycott of Mormon-owned businesses and even the entire state of Utah.
Niederauer also defended the active involvement churches played in the campaign, saying "religious leaders in America have the constitutional right to speak out on issues of public policy."
Niederauer said that while he knew many gay people felt "hurt and offended," both sides "need to be able to disagree without being disagreeable.
"We need to stop talking as if we are experts on the real motives of people with whom we have never even spoken. We need to stop hurling names like ‘bigot’ and ‘pervert’ at each other. And we need to stop it now," he said.