S.F. religious leaders praise gay marriage outcomes; archbishop decries decisions

The good news Wednesday was truly good news – for Jews, Christians and Buddhists alike.

“Gay marriage is marriage, and gay parents are parents,” said Episcopal Bishop Marc Andrus, one of 60 religious leaders who gathered on the steps of Grace Cathedral to praise the U.S. Supreme Court decisions that struck down the federal Defense of Marriage Act and rendered California's ban on same-sex marriage officially unconstitutional. “And all people are people.”

The reverends, ministers, priests, rabbis, deacons and monks – and one gay Mormon – are members of Oasis California and the Coalition of Welcoming Congregations of the Bay Area, religious communities whose doors have been open to gay members.

Some, like the Episcopalians, allowed gay marriage before and after Prop. 8. But even supporters of same-sex marriage realized that the religious community has something to atone for.

“In the name of my own religion, and in the name of all Western religions, we owe an apology to the gay and lesbian communities,” said Rabbi Michael Lerner of the Beyt Tikkyn Synagogue, who noted that some “90 percent” of American Jews are gay marriage supporters. “It was out of our texts that right-wing forces were able to draw… a foundation that that gay and lesbian people do not deserve the same rights as we do.”

Noticeably absent were clergymembers from the Roman Catholic Church. Some parish priests were invited – and some, from Most Holy Redeemer in the Castro district, have participated in pro-gay marriage events in the past – but none this time were allowed to attend, thanks in large part to their new boss.

One of gay marriage's most visible and vocal opponents is Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone, who was installed last summer as leader of the 560,000 Catholics in Marin, San Francisco and San Mateo counties.

In a statement, Cordileone – who was at the Vatican on Wednesday, receiving honors of his office from Pope Francis – called the Supreme Court decision a “profound injustice.” Wednesday, he said, was “a tragic day for marriage and our nation.”

Also absent were any representatives from the Islamic faith, for whom gay marriage is also a tough theological sell.

In 2008, evangelical Christians – and in particular, black congregations – helped to pass Prop. 8. But on Wednesday, the most firebrand preacher present was the Rev. Amos Brown, president of the San Francisco chapter of the NAACP, who said that the struggles of gay people and black people for equal rights are one and the same.

“Don't forget the bridge that brought you over,” said the veteran of the civil rights movement. “We must not have confrontation between the black and the gay, lesbian, and transgender communities. … An injustice to one is an injury to all.”

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