Catholic League sues supervisors for resolution

The City’s stance against Catholic Church officials who oppose the adoption of children by same-sex couples is under attack by a powerful church group.

The Catholic League, the nation’s largest Catholic civil rights organization, has filed a lawsuit against the Board of Supervisors for adopting a resolution in March criticizing a high-ranking church official for directing Catholic leaders in San Francisco not to allow same-sex couples to adopt children.

The Catholic League maintains that the resolution violates the First Amendment, which prohibits government from passing laws against religious groups.

City Attorney Dennis Herrera has filed a motion with the San Francisco District Court to dismiss the case on the grounds that it has no merit.

“Church officials weighed in on a matter of public policy and they are certainly free to do that. But the fact they are a religious institution doesn’t constitutionally shield them from being criticized,” City Attorney’s Office spokesman Matt Dorsey said.

The Catholic League is asking the judge to rule that the resolution is unconstitutional and is seeking an unknown sum in damages as well as reimbursement of legal fees.

The resolution, authored by Supervisor Tom Ammiano, urged local Catholic leaders to “defy all discriminatory directives” from Cardinal William Levada, who instructed them to “not place children for adoption in homosexual households.”

The resolution also characterizes Levada’s directive as “hateful and discriminatory rhetoric.”

The Catholic League states in its lawsuit that the resolution “conveys an official government message of disapproval of the Catholic religion.”

Kiera McCaffrey, spokeswoman for the Catholic League, said the resolution was “absolutely” an attack on the Catholic Church and “it gives Catholic citizens a sense of not being welcomed when the government is showing open opposition against them.”

Herrera’s motion will be heard Oct. 2 by the District Court.

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