Catholic Church Threatens to Stop Taking DC's Money if Officials Don't Bow to its Demands on Same-Sex Marriage
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The Catholic Archdiocese of Washington said Wednesday that it will be unable to continue the social service programs it runs for the District if the city doesn't change a proposed same-sex marriage law, a threat that could affect tens of thousands of people the church helps with adoption, homelessness and health care.
Under the bill, headed for a D.C. Council vote next month, religious organizations would not be required to perform or make space available for same-sex weddings. But they would have to obey city laws prohibiting discrimination against gay men and lesbians.
Fearful that they could be forced, among other things, to extend employee benefits to same-sex married couples, church officials said they would have no choice but to abandon their contracts with the city.
"If the city requires this, we can't do it," Susan Gibbs, spokeswoman for the archdiocese, said Wednesday. "The city is saying in order to provide social services, you need to be secular. For us, that's really a problem."
Just so we're all on the same page, the Catholic Church doesn't want to extend partner benefits to same-sex married couples, because they view homosexuality as a sin. The Catholic Church also believes that all of its employees are sinners, by virtue of its doctrine viewing all humans as sinners. But they're not arguing that they shouldn't be compelled to extend benefits to those sinners, nor would they argue that providing healthcare coverage to people whose bad health habits they regard as sinful (gluttony! sloth! lust!) is a tacit endorsement of those sins. It's a special argument reserved especially just for the very special case of gay people and their specialized sin.
Catholic Charities, the church's social services arm, is one of dozens of nonprofit organizations that partner with the District. It serves 68,000 people in the city, including the one-third of Washington's homeless people who go to city-owned shelters managed by the church. City leaders said the church is not the dominant provider of any particular social service, but the church pointed out that it supplements funding for city programs with $10 million from its own coffers.
"All of those services will be adversely impacted if the exemption language remains so narrow," Jane G. Belford, chancellor of the Washington Archdiocese, wrote to the council this week.
Ah, it reminds me of those lovely words spoken by the Savior during his Sermon on the Mount: "And lo I beseech you to fuck over the homeless if the gays get too uppity."
Councilperson David Catania, who sponsored DC's same-sex marriage bill and chairs the Health Committee, sniffed at the church's threat: "They don't represent, in my mind, an indispensable component of our social services infrastructure." Councilperson Mary Cheh was even less generous, saying the church's behavior was "somewhat childish."