(CN) – The 9th Circuit will reconsider whether the San Francisco Board of Supervisors violated the Constitution by passing a non-binding resolution urging Catholic charities to allow same-sex adoption and calling the Vatican’s stance on the issue “insulting and callous.”
A three-judge panel upheld the resolution in June on the grounds that it had the “secular purpose” of promoting same-sex adoption.
The 2006 resolution states: “It is an insult to all San Franciscans when a foreign country, like the Vatican, meddles with and attempts to negatively influence this great City’s existing and established customs and traditions such as the right of same-sex couples to adopt and care for children in need. …
“The statements of Cardinal (William) Levada and the Vatican that ‘Catholic agencies should not place children for adoption in homosexual households,’ and ‘Allowing children to be adopted by persons living in such unions would actually mean doing violence to these children’ are absolutely unacceptable to the citizenry of San Francisco,” the resolution continues.
“Such hateful and discriminatory rhetoric is both insulting and callous, and shows a level of insensitivity and ignorance which has seldom been encountered by this Board of Supervisors.”
The board added that gay couples are “just as qualified to be parents” as heterosexual couples.
The Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights sued in federal court, claiming the resolution violates the separation of church and state by attacking Catholicism.
In affirming dismissal of the case, the appeals court adopted the board’s view that the resolution was meant to “denounce discrimination against same-sex couples” – a secular goal.
Judge Marsha Berzon concurred, but found the result “troublesome.” The Constitution assures believers that the government won’t take positions condemning their religious beliefs, she said. The 2006 resolution and others like it “are near – if not at – the line that separates the establishment of such a policy,” Berzon wrote.
A majority of 9th Circuit judges agreed to rehear the case.