A California mayor’s comments saying that homosexuals are committing sin that will keep them out of heaven have caused uproar among activists. While the mayor also explained that he loves his close friends who are gay, some activists have called for him to resign and want the city to advance homosexual goals.
In a Nov. 16 interview with the New York Times, Mayor Osby Davis of Vallejo, California discussed issues of religion and politics in the Bay Area city of 120,000 people, the California Catholic Daily reports.
Discussion turned to the school board candidate Bishop Lou A. Bordisso, an openly homosexual prelate in the American Catholic Church, a church not in communion with Rome.
The mayor reported that Bordisso was “striking out at the faith-based community” and indicated that they should not be involved in the school.
Mayor Davis said that Christians have the right to ask a candidate whether he is going to attempt to bring a “gay and lesbian agenda” into the curriculum.
Asked by the New York Times whether there are some faith communities “where gay people are not welcome,” Davis replied that God loves “anyone who is gay and anyone who is not gay.”
“The sins that keep you out of heaven are not the just those sins of being gay, those are sins of lying, murdering, unforgiving, all kinds of sins… So when you look at someone who is gay, you see them as someone Christ died for and you look at them as if they are in fact committing sin and that sin will keep them out of heaven.”
In the mayor’s view, a Christian doesn’t hate the person but rather the sin they commit.
“And you continue to love the person, and you hope one day the person will see the error in their ways,” he continued.
No sin is greater than any other, he opined, saying he has “very close friends who are gay.”
“I don’t believe that their lifestyle is correct but that’s a decision that they have to make. I don’t stop loving them because they’re gay. They have to make a decision on their own. If I present something to them and they don’t want to receive it, okay that’s well and good. That’s not going to stop me from loving them.”
The pro-family organization Capitol Resource Institute (CRI) reported that the mayor's city, Vallejo, is divided in its reaction to the statement.
“Some have called for the removal of the mayor, the appointment of an openly gay individual to the Vallejo Human Relations Commission, and official recognition of an LGBT Pride month,” CRI said.
The group reported that many of the demands charge that the mayor’s statements violate church-state separation.
“And much of the criticism begins with the accusation that the religious community in general is motivated by hate,” the CRI added.
Kevin Snider, chief counsel to the Pacific Justice Institute (PJI), said his organization is monitoring the situation.
Snider remarked that though it may be “unwise” for an elected official to discuss his religious beliefs with a New York Times reporter, it “certainly is not illegal.”
“It is troubling that so many believe that there is such a restriction on protected speech,” he added.
The PJI has expressed concerned about the “numerous attacks” on the Vallejo religious community in newspaper letters, e-mails and public forums at City Council meetings.
As many as 500 people took part in a protest at Vallejo City Hall on Dec. 2. Some supported the mayor while others opposed him.
The CRI said the uproar was a “teachable moment” for leaders of the Vallejo faith community.
Snider also saw hypocrisy in the reactions to Mayor Davis’ comments.
“Some are asking that Vallejo formally celebrate their views on sexuality while punishing the mayor for stating his views on sexuality. They seem to be saying, ‘we’re out of the closet, now Christians need to go into the closet,” he commented.
Mayor Davis and homosexual city council member Michael Wilson issued a joint statement rebuking the “rumors of hate” being circulated on the basis of the New York Times article. The statement professed their unity in efforts to build consensus and confront “hatred and division.”