Catholic Archdiocese threatens to end services if D.C. marriage bill passes

Posted on 12 Nov 2009 at 7:46pm

The Washington, D.C. City Council is expected to approve a measure legalizing same-sex marriage there next month. And the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Washington is not happy about it. The Archdiocese has issued a statement warning that if the marriage bill passes, the church may not be able to provide its social service programs to the city. The move could threaten tens of thousands that get help from the church’s programs with adoption, homeless shelters and foster care programs. Archdiocese spokeswoman Susan Gibbs said that by passing the marriage bill the council would be “putting restrictions on us.” According to MyFoxDC.com, the Archdiocese’s social arm is Catholic Charities, which essentially forms the partnership with the District on dozens of different social services that affects more than 68,000 people. One of the biggest is the homeless program. It serves more than a third of the city’s homeless population. This along with adoption and foster care would be the hardest hit. The bill does not require religious organizations to perform or authorize a same-sex wedding or provide religious counseling or education to same-sex couples. But those organizations would be required to obey city laws prohibiting discrimination against gays and lesbians. That, the Archdiocese says, violates its religious doctrines. “Being Catholic is far more than that. It is every part of our faith. It permeates in our office life. It permeates in our office benefits our adoption services our foster care services,” Gibbs told the Fox station. But D.C. Councilmember Mary Cheh told MyFoxDC she thinks the threat smells of desperation: “It signals to me a little bit of desperation because they oppose it and I understand that. That’s their right to oppose that but they are coming out of left field — it seems to me to try to figure out how they can up the ante.” Sounds a little like blackmail to me.

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