A petition with 30,000 signatures was slipped through a crack in the front door of the Archdiocese of San Francisco on Tuesday morning, leaving thousands of pages spilled across the building's lobby.
The petition, addressed to Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone, requested that the high-ranking Catholic official call off his plans to speak at Thursday's March for Marriage in Washington, D.C., which has been called anti-gay.
“It says to him he's speaking with a group that's hateful,” said Rosemary Ehat, a lesbian and former nun who was at the archdiocese for the petition's delivery.
The petition was just the latest development in the fracas.
Appointed by Pope Benedict XVI in 2012, Cordileone has been vocal in the fight against same-sex marriage and chairs the church's Subcommittee for the Promotion and Defense of Marriage.
On Monday, Cordileone wrote a letter to several local officials in response to their request that he call off plans to speak at the march. His letter was addressed to Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom, Mayor Ed Lee, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, state senators and San Francisco supervisors, among others.
“The March for Marriage is not anti-LGBT [as some have described it]; it is not anti-anything. Rather, it is a pro-marriage March,” the letter said.
The correspondence denies allegations that march organizer the National Organization for Marriage has linked gays with pedophilia.
If that were the case, the letter says, Cordileone would not participate in such an event.
Cordileone also wrote that his position requires him to speak at events even when “truths that it is my duty to uphold and teach are unpopular, including especially the truth about marriage as the conjugal union of husband and wife.”
But the Southern Poverty Law Center in 2012 wrote that the National Organization for Marriage “publicizes anti-gay material that is just plain nasty.”
In August 2011, said the report, NOM's Ruth Institute posted video of a discussion between conservative author George Gilder and Nick Gillespie, editor of the libertarian website Reason.tv. In the video, according to the report, Gilder calls homosexual sex “'an addictive form of behavior' and that 'young boys are quite responsive to it' and could be 'inculcated.' Even if gay men don't molest children, he seems to say, gay marriage will spur young boys to have gay sex.”
Activists at Tuesday's petition delivery also contend that march organizers are linked with or have themselves espoused hatred toward LGBT people.
Gregg Cossin, who stuffed the petition into the door Tuesday, said he wanted to send a message that the archbishop should not be taking part in events with such groups.
“He is standing shoulder to shoulder with a hate group,” Cossin said.
The website for the march says the event — first held last year as the U.S. Supreme Court heard oral arguments on California's former same-sex marriage ban, Proposition 8 — is meant to reaffirm that marriage is between a man and a woman.