“The churches that worked in favor of Proposition 8 did so because of their belief that the traditional understanding and definition of marriage is in need of defense and support, and not in need of being re-designed or re-configured,” he insisted.
The archbishop noted that religious leaders in America have a constitutional right to speak out on issues of public policy.
“Catholic bishops, specifically, also have a responsibility to teach the faith, and our beliefs about marriage and family are part of this faith.”
“Members of churches who supported Proposition 8 sincerely believe that defining marriage as only between a man and a woman is one such issue,” Archbishop Niederauer said. “They see marriage and the family as the basic building blocks of human society, existing before government and not created by it. Marriage is for us the ideal relationship between a man and woman, in which, through their unique sexual complementarity, the spouses offer themselves to God as co-creators of new human persons, a father and mother giving them life and enabling them to thrive in the family setting.”
The archbishop emphasized that Proposition 8 was not an attack on any group or an attempt to deprive others of their civil rights, noting that domestic partnerships provide the same rights and benefits as married couples.
To those who were offended by the campaign and had voiced hostility to Proposition 8 supporters, Archbishop Niederauer counseled:
“Tolerance, respect, and trust are always two-way streets, and tolerance respect and trust often do not include agreement, or even approval. We need to be able to disagree without being disagreeable. We need to stop talking as if we are experts on the real motives of people with whom we have never even spoken. We need to stop hurling names like ‘bigot’ and ‘pervert’ at each other. And we need to stop it now.”
Bill May, Chairman for the Catholics for the Common Good initiative which encouraged Catholics to back Proposition 8, commented on the Archbishop’s statement. He described it as presenting “strong and legitimate reasons for supporting marriage between a man and a woman.”
According to the San Francisco Chronicle, May said that Niederauer “is a very loving person,” and “he expresses the teachings of the church in a very pastoral way. He is expressing the fundamental understanding of the Catholic Church that every human person has intrinsic dignity that must be respected.”