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Catholics Church Threatens D.C. Council Over Marriage Equality Bill

The Catholic Archdiocese of Washington D.C. has told the D.C. Council that if they are forced to recognize same-sex married couples (as D.C.'s proposed marriage equality law would impel them to do) they will have no other choice but to discontinue all social service programs in D.C. related to adoption, homelessness, health care and other areas.

The WaPo reports: Gibbs "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.' Several D.C. Council members said the Catholic Church is trying to erode the city's long-standing laws protecting gay men and lesbians from discrimination. The clash escalates the dispute over the same-sex marriage proposal between the council and the archdiocese, which has generally stayed out of city politics."

Catania The marriage bill's main sponsor, council member David Catania, has said he'd rather end the city's relationship with the Church than give in. Catania says that between 2006 and 2008 Catholic Charities received $8.2 million in city contracts.

More: "The archdiocese's statement follows a vote Tuesday by the council's Committee on Public Safety and the Judiciary to reject an amendment that would have allowed individuals, based on their religious beliefs, to decline to provide services for same-sex weddings...After the vote, the archdiocese sent out a statement accusing the council of ignoring the right of religious freedom. Gibbs said Wednesday that without Alexander's amendment and other proposed changes, the measure has too narrow an exemption. She said religious groups that receive city funds would be required to give same-sex couples medical benefits, open adoptions to same-sex couples and rent a church hall to a support group for lesbian couples. Peter Rosenstein of the Campaign for All D.C. Families accused the church of trying to 'blackmail the city.' ... 'The issue here is they are using public funds, and to allow people to discriminate with public money is unacceptable,' Rosenstein said."

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  1. Are the Catholic charities really charities if what they're doing is taking the taxpayers' money and providing services to the poor? That sounds more like a public charity. At what point between my pocket and the soup in a homeless kid's belly does my money become Catholic money, consecrated to the divine doctrines of the Church?

    Catholics, like members of any other religious group, have a First Amendment right to determine what goes on in the sanctity of their own houses of worship. Nobody’s asking them to marry two lesbians, or a priest and an altar boy. However, while taking public funds to provide public services, the archdiocese is required to obey public law. Allowing them a pass on this issue would be violating everybody else’s First Amendment rights. The Constitution nowhere even hints at there being a "Religious Right" to alienate the Civil Rights of others.

    The Church has had a good run at passing off the taxpayers’ charity as its own. It is time to set the record, and the Church, straight on this issue: Conform to public law, or start raising your own money for charity. The District can find other charitable organizations, and the Church can always go back to making money by selling indulgences and raiding Saracen treasures.

    Posted by: Gary | Nov 12, 2009 1:48:46 PM

  2. The San Francisco Archdiocese made the SAME threats in the 1980s, but capitulated when the City and County of San Francisco, conjoined by numerous clergy, insisted that the Church be obedient to the law, or otherwise, Catholic Charities would receive no contracts. The United Way joined the fray, insisting upon the same.

    Posted by: The Gay Species | Nov 12, 2009 1:59:15 PM

  3. If they no longer are a charity then they are a business tax their holdings. and maybe they should take more of an interest in people than pomp and circumstance. Look any group that is lead by a man wearing a dress with an ermine cape and velvet shoes how gay is that

    Posted by: walter | Nov 12, 2009 2:14:39 PM

  4. First, you know the Catholic church will not discontinue social services. That is where they make/get their money.

    Second, even though it is not stated here, I often find them (the Christian's) proclaiming of hate against them, yet it is they who use the Bible as a weapon.

    Finally, this picture say's it all....

    Posted by: CB | Nov 12, 2009 2:27:19 PM

  5. Jesus (no pun intended), it's only $8.2 million over three years. Here's a solution: award the contracts to other organizations! Say, secular groups that care about helping people and aren't running hateful smear campaigns on the side!

    Problem solved! Bye Catholics!

    Posted by: Paul R | Nov 12, 2009 2:28:00 PM

  6. And we see the real family values that the catholic church cares about defending. Child welfare? No. Helping the needy and homeless? No. Protection for women suffering from domestic violence? No. What value is being protected here? The value of special rights for heterosexuals, who have traditionally used those special rights to deny personhood to half the population (women) at the explicit endorsement of the church.

    Posted by: TANK | Nov 12, 2009 2:40:14 PM

  7. Can anyone explain to me (without resorting to hyperbole or insults) how the RCC reconciles its ability to recognize certain civil marriages that would never pass muster as a catholic marriage(for example, a civil marriage of divorced persons), and its refusal to recognize other civil marriages (e.g., the legal civil marriage of two men)? Does the church not currently extend employee benefits to the spouses of its divorced and remarried employees? Even though such marriages are against their beliefs? Both types of marraiges are contrary to RCC doctrine, both are civilly legal (hopefully) yet only one of those is a problem for the church. I'm stymied.

    Posted by: Patrick | Nov 12, 2009 3:01:41 PM

  8. Gay Species is correct that the Catholic Church tried this same shit in San Francisco years ago and had their ass delivered on a contribution plate. :)
    Now the Catholic Church is really on the defensive in San Francisco since the city wants them to pay property taxes on some of their "investments" in the city.
    Fuck the church and all the bullshit and hypocritic preaching it promotes.

    Posted by: SFshawn | Nov 12, 2009 3:04:28 PM

  9. One of the reasons they want to hold the money is to pay for all the pedophiles in the priesthood maybe they can use to defend the archbishop in Canada arrested with a lapyop full of kiddie porn This after he said he was repulsed by having to pay settlements on other priests HIPPOCRITES

    Posted by: walter | Nov 12, 2009 4:56:32 PM

  10. Patrick:

    Very good question! Why, indeed, does the Church recognize some civil marriages, but not others? The answer is in two parts. First, the Church developed into its present form as the Roman Empire was collapsing. She stepped into the void left by imperial politics, and her "Princes" became the premier global politicians of the Dark Ages. The Church's hierarchy has a long history of bending doctrine to meet the needs of international hegemony. Henry VIII learned about this the hard way. The Church does occasionally bless what should logically be illicit marriages, while spurning others. The question is always, what's in it for them?

    Second, according to the Church, sexual relations must be 'open to the transmission of life' in order to be considered moral. While a marriage between octogenarians would seem to be outside this window, there is always the possibility for a miracle (Abraham and Sarah). By definition, a same gendered couple, however, cannot possibly conceive a child. Therefore, homosexual relations are immoral, and the Church cannot bless an intrinsically immoral union.

    It should be noted that there are lots of good theological arguments making mincemeat of the Church's position, but there's only one secular rebuttal: It's none of their god (and I mean this literally) damned business who I marry.

    Posted by: Gary | Nov 12, 2009 7:15:08 PM

  11. "Whore of Babylon" is a perfectly acceptible description of the Catholic Church that has historical Foundations.

    or do you just hate Protestant religious leaders and churches who invented and popularized the phrase

    Besides that, it's true.

    Posted by: New Jersey Girl | Nov 12, 2009 7:22:31 PM

  12. Public money comes with public strings to not discriminate. F 'em.

    Posted by: KJ | Nov 12, 2009 8:27:03 PM

  13. Next time the Catholic hierarchy comes at us in a state marriage equality vote, we should have attack commercials ready about exactly this situation in D.C. that make the Catholic hierarchy look (as they are being here) as cruel, vicious monsters who value their hate over the needs of the poor and the homeless. And then we should immediately follow those commercials up with commercials that demand nationwide investigations into the Catholic Church's role in covering up specific cases of sexual abuse by their clergy, with embarassing facts, statistics, etc. about it. We should make it such a continuous 24/7 public relations nightmare for the Catholic church that they never, ever, ever come after us again. Same goes for the Mormons.

    But, instead, our gay rights groups will probably just make more dull commercials featuring sweet lesbian couples and their sad eyed kids. "Aren't we nice?" the commercials will beg, "Please don't hurt us." And we'll lose. And keep losing. And until we're willing to play hardball, and start adopting a "you come at us, we'll come at you" strategy toward these hateful religious groups, we won't stop losing. But I think just ONE election, anywhere in the country, where the Catholics and the Mormons come after us and instead of playing defense, we go on the offense and constantly, for months, make it all about subjects they don't want the public looking into and talking about... do that ONCE and I suspect we'll have it a lot easier in ALL these elections, 'cause they won't ever want that kind of scrutiny again.

    Posted by: bobbyjoe | Nov 12, 2009 8:35:17 PM

  14. As a graduate of The Catholic University of America in DC, I can tell you that there are plenty of "sinners" within the compound. Perhaps I can share my list with Ms. Gibbs and the District! Hahahahahaha!!!

    Posted by: Mike in NYC | Nov 12, 2009 10:06:51 PM

  15. Mark's post " you Nailed It ! ! PAY TAXES

    Posted by: F, Willard | Nov 12, 2009 11:51:52 PM

  16. What can I say that hasn't been said? I am not Catholic. I am an American citizen. I don't give a FLYING FUCK what the FUCKING boy fuckers have to say. The Catholic Church can go fuck itself. Stay the FUCK out of public policy. You only have a right to tell the sad people who CHOOSE to follow your shit religion what to do. The rest of us don't care to hear from you, and stay the FUCK out of our lives! Why, for the love of God, don't you get that?!

    Posted by: So Left I'm Right | Nov 12, 2009 11:52:37 PM

  17. The Catholics are presenting a false choice to DC-ites. The Catholic Church faced a similar issue in Massachusetts when it was made public that Catholic Charities, their social services arm, was placing children with gay couples. That Church chose to stop accepting money from the state and stopped providing those services. The Mormon Church does not place children with gay couples, and because they do not accept state money, they are free to do as they wish. The Catholics could operate as a private entity, just like the Mormons, but they would rather not. DC officials should not permit the Catholics to tell everyone that they will have no choice but to stop providing services. Their threat is a false "choice", and they should be called out on it.

    Posted by: chip5610 | Nov 13, 2009 12:36:13 AM

  18. 1. The HRC should bid for the contracts and do something useful.
    2. Outrage against the church is misplaced. They have no shame. They can't claim the moral high ground when they're slinging it as mud.
    3. Love Catania.
    4. Someone explain to the Bishop that DC isn't the Boy Scouts of America.

    Posted by: grego | Nov 13, 2009 1:39:07 AM

  19. Everyone please watch this piece from The Onion. Never has satire been so close to the truth and therefore so biting.

    Posted by: Bill in SoCal | Nov 13, 2009 6:33:36 AM

  20. @BOBBYJOE - I would pay fat cash to produce those spots. The truth alone could crush them.

    Posted by: patrick | Nov 13, 2009 10:36:55 AM

  21. I have been married for 30 years to an ex-seminarian, and my best friend is also an ex-seminarian. They both confirm that the Roman church is the greatest force for evil on the planet. As a lawyer, I believe it is time for that church to lose its tax-exempt status, in view of its blatant politicking.

    Posted by: Michael Fleming | Nov 13, 2009 12:42:09 PM

  22. Why can't you all realise that although you believe in anything goes not everybody does - the Catholic Church is one organisation of many that draws a line in the sand but it is the main one that speaks out against loads of stuff that is wrong and unnatural.

    Posted by: Gusto | Nov 13, 2009 8:43:48 PM

  23. Patrick, hasn't the church always understood the word 'marriage' as between a male and female. It is a simple word with a simple defintion. This simple defintion is recognised both within the church and outside as well. It is a simple thing to say your marriage meets the defintion although it wasn't a religious marriage it is a marriage all the same.

    Marriage has the same principle behind it as does the word 'synergy'. Do we get a synergy by the placing of two of the same things together. NO. So when someone wants to redefine the word synergy to mean something it can not, should common sense prevail and we tell them to use another word?

    Posted by: Gusto | Nov 13, 2009 8:49:43 PM

  24. Gusto...I understand the need to nail down a definition. It is frustrating how flexible words are. 'Nice' once meant 'neat' or 'precise.' 'Marriage,' until very recently, was between a man and his property, and, yes, you can have synergy between two of the same things if the two work together to create a union that is larger than the individual. I like that. That is a nice definition of marriage equality.

    Posted by: Eric | Nov 13, 2009 10:05:00 PM

  25. Um, Gusto, the Catholic church has the right to draw lines in the sand when it comes to things within the church that are supported solely by church money. Once they interfere with the civil marriage rights of those outside the church and enter the public sphere (i.e. accept public money) then they need to play by public rules as defined by the public they wish to serve. In this case, they have no right to be drawing any line in the sand, and their definition of marriage is irrelevant. It's the state's lines in the sand that matter, not the church's.

    Posted by: Ernie | Nov 13, 2009 11:32:54 PM

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