West Hollywood, California (Monday, October 13, 2008) – West Hollywood’s St. Victor’s Church, a Catholic parish founded in 1906, has taken another stance diametrically opposed to the Creative City’s general ideology – against same-sex marriage.
Known for its feeding of the homeless, which causes the surrounding neighborhood problems with those congregants, as well as its long-time pro-life stance in one of the most pro-choice cities in America, this past weekend found parishioners at tables in front of the church disseminating anti-gay marriage literature.
They did so on National Coming Out Day, enraging one gay neighbor.
Sam Borelli, that neighbor, reported his outrage over the symbolism represented by allowing such a campaign on a church’s property, especially a church with a reputation for its openness to gays and that proclaims so on its web site:
“We are located in West Hollywood and serve residents of that city and the surrounding areas of Los Angeles. We seek to serve the outcast of society, those marginalized through economic status, social disapproval or any kind of discrimination.
“God does not discriminate.”
As he tells it, he happened just upon the sidewalk campaign. “I spotted the tables as I drove home late Saturday afternoon,” he told WeHo News.
He said he walked over to the parish, located at 8634 Holloway Dr., to investigate.
There, the people manning the tables told him they were not volunteers through the official Yes On 8 campaign, merely parishioners who gained the church’s permission to use their facility to campaign.
Mr. Borelli caught Monsignor Jeremiah Murphy, pastor and chief administrator at St. Victor’s since 2000, and asked “if all the members support the Yes On 8 campaign,” he said.
“He said only, ‘Not everybody believes in gay marriage,'” Mr. Borelli recalled.
The abovementioned outrage developed in him, sending him home to write an entry into his blog (his Walking WeHo blog can be found here www.walkingweho.wordpress.com) and pass it along to WeHo News.
In that entry, he said he believed that churches shouldn’t be involved in political campaigning (separation of church and state), anyway, however, the community needed to organize a response.
He called for a protest on Sunday to call other parishioners’ attention to the church’s efforts to eliminate the right to marry.
Arriving there Sunday, he said he found that the church had allowed the Yes On 8 campaigners to place tables at both entrances, the front on Holloway and in the parking lot, while also placing a one page flyer for the Yes On 8 Campaign, issued by the California Catholic Conference, inside the church program and bulletin.
Mr. Borelli, a public Safety Commissioner who lives on Holloway, led his band of No On 8 protesters in an action on the sidewalk in front of the entrance.
He said on his blog later that day that the group received a great deal of positive response: “we were welcome with only positive feedback,” he wrote, “some waves of support, and a few thumbs up by passersby and parishioners alike.”
He said that one conversation affected him most; “one woman, a church employee, came up to me and said she wanted to speak out against the church policy but was afraid of being fired,” such was the atmosphere inside the church offices.
Mr. Borelli said he was glad he caught it early.
“There are plenty of members, maybe even some married members,” he said, “of this community supporting this church while it hosts a discriminatory, politically divisive action group.”
He felt that getting the word out would pressure the church to at least lower the volume on their political agitation for discrimination.
“I hope that the members of St. Victor’s in West Hollywood, he said, “and the entire community take a stand against this hateful, hurtful position.
“Clearly the fight for equal rights is not over when right here in our back yard we are forced to live with this [expression of] discrimination.”
Monsignor Jeremiah Murphy, pastor and chief administrator at St. Victor’s did not take, nor did he return repeated calls for comment before publication.
Opponents of Prop 8 who wish to donate to that cause can do so at www.noonprop8.org .
Prop 8 Supporters who wish to donate to that cause can do so at http://www.protectmarriage.com.