Friday, November 27, 2009
The Washington Post reports that the Catholic Church is threatening to end a wide range of service programs in the District of Columbia pending the passage of a same-sex marriage bill by the DC Council next month. The bill has language that requires, among other things, prohibiting discrimination against gay men and women by religious organizations.
A spokeswoman for the church stated that "the city is saying in order to provide social services, you need to be secular. For us, that's really a problem." The church says that it will be forced to abandon its contracts with the city including those that provide social services to the community. Specifically, the church points to the $10 million it contributes to city social services to illustrate the impact of the bill. The DC government has responded that the church is not “an indispensable component of [the city’s] social services infrastructure.” Peter Rosenstein of the Campaign for All D.C. Families states that “the issue here is that they are using public funds, and to allow people to discriminate with public money is unacceptable.”
The DC Council is expected to pass the bill next month. Council members state that they are baffled
by the church’s position, but that they are willing to find another partner to provide
social services who will be able to make use of the $8.2 million in city
contracts that currently goes to the church.