“Is Mother Teresa a hateful person? She has the same beliefs I do.
“One of the first houses she opened in San Francisco was an AIDS house for gay men. Some of the first people she reached out to were gay men,” Leatherby noted.
“If it wasn’t so horrible, it would be silly,” he said of the criticisms.
He said the phone calls accusing his family of hate are “vulgar, swearing, for the most part just angry,” explaining his mother took one such call on Tuesday.
“You accuse me of hate, could you please listen to what you are saying?” she said to the caller, according to Leatherby.
“They’re so emotional and so angry that they don’t’ take time to sit back and think about it,” he said.
He noted that he and his business had even been threatened.
“Our employees, little 16-year-old girls, have been threatened physically because of my family’s stand,” he said.
Not all the interactions with critics have been negative.
Leatherby recounted his meeting with a 70-year-old man who was critical of his support for Proposition 8.
“After talking with him, I said I used to work at a certain house for gay men dying of AIDS.
“He broke down in tears and said, ‘one of my partners died there’.”
Leatherby offered to buy him lunch, where he learned that the man had grown up in a Catholic orphanage.
“The man said ‘the Catholic church had done more for me than anyone else in my life.’
“He said he had been abused before he entered the orphanage, and said he wouldn’t have been gay if he had had a strong man in his life.”
Relatives of gays tell Leatherby they support him, but it’s “very difficult” for them.
“Some gays come in and say ‘I wasn’t for Proposition 8, but we don’t agree with the boycott, and how they’re treating you, so we’d like you to know we’re not in favor of that.’”
He recounted how one man had told a television station he had voted for Proposition 8 after noticing the difference between the two sides and the different examples of their advocates.
CNA asked Leatherby what he would say to those Catholics who are wary to support marriage publicly for fear of economic and social consequences.
“I think we have to stand up,” he replied. “The biggest fear is: if you don’t, you’re going to be in violation of hate crimes very soon,” warning that people “could be dragged to jail.”
He predicted others will “stand up” following his lead.
“To stand alone is always difficult,” he said, adding that many people have come in and spoken with his family in support.
“We’ve been very public when the news media has asked us to step up and I hope that would encourage other people to step up” and not “cower,” Leatherby told CNA.