Catholics Protest Gay Marriages In San Francisco

By  | 

Catholic opponents of same-sex marriage held a prayer march Saturday, criticizing city officials who have licensed thousands of weddings for gay couples and calling for a federal amendment banning the unions.

A crowd of about 1,000 celebrated morning Mass at Sts. Peter and Paul Church with Archbishop William J. Levada, then held a rally that was frequently interrupted by calls of "shame" and "equal rights" by gay-rights counter-protesters.

The demonstrators then marched a several-blocks loop back to the church. Many held signs with pictures of the Virgin Mary and Jesus.

"Marriage is between a man and a woman," said Madeleine Veneklase, 44, of Napa, who is pregnant with her fifth child. "That's how God made us and that's the way to true happiness in a relationship."

San Francisco generated worldwide attention when Mayor Gavin Newsom authorized city officials to start issuing same-sex marriage licenses. Nearly 4,000 couples were married here between Feb. 12 and March 11, when the state Supreme Court suspended the policy pending legal challenges.

Peter Ragone, a spokesman for Newsom, said Saturday the Catholic mayor has "respectful disagreements" with the church.

"Some Catholics disagree with the mayor but there has been overwhelming support for ending discrimination against same-sex couples in Northern California," Ragone said.

The rally and march were sponsored by Your Catholic Voice, a nationwide organization that says it has roughly 250,000 members. San Francisco police reported no trouble.