This comes as no surprise to me.
The Catholic Church in Washington D.C. has threatened to pull out of all social services in the District if the City Council moves forward with the currently proposed marriage bill. Their concerns stem from the fact that though they will be exempt from having to provide wedding day services, they will be forced to recognize the relationships afterward through employee spousal benefits and other consequences of marriage equality.
Such a threat if followed through could affect tens of thousands of residents, reports the Washington Post, because of the assistance the church provides for adoption, homelessness and health care.
"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."
However, it appears to me that the Church's biggest problem is with existing legislation, the Human Rights Act, which demands that discrimination against gays and lesbians not be tolerated.
The church is not the dominant provider in the district for its charitable services, though if they pull out, it will have an impact. But WaPo is saying that the church's influence is limited, with the marriage bill's sponsor, councilmember David Catania, who claims to have been a big supporter of their charitable work, says he'd rather part ways with the Church than to give into their threats.
"If they find living under our laws so oppressive that they can no longer take city resources, the city will have to find an alternative partner to step in to fill the shoes," Catania said. He also told WaPo that the Catholic Charities was involved in only six of the 102 city-sponsored adoptions last year.
Marriage equality advocates are telling the paper that this is the first that such a heated falling out has occurred over a marriage bill and public services.
But this has been a long-time coming. Who doesn't remember the Yes on 1 campaign crying foul that a Catholic adoption agency in Massachusetts, which was receiving government funds, chose to shut down instead helping same-sex couples adopt?
It's the same thing here. What the church is really objecting to is LGBT citizens receiving equality and as a result, more standing in society. This forces the church to deal with them publicly instead of keeping the status quo, which is acting like the LGBT population doesn't exist (unless of course to use us as a scapegoat for pedophile priests).
The crux of the problem is that the existing Human Rights Act, which is separate from the marriage bill, already demands that the church offer its public services to all residents if these public services are receiving public money. I've already objected to the fact that the current religious exemptions in the marriage bill violate the Human Rights Act, but now that the church is demanding even more coddling and special treatment, they're beyond reproach.
Let's face it. The Catholic Church will soon argue itself into non-relevance, exposing its hypocrisy to the point where society will have no interest in any of the actual good that it performs. Which is a shame because Jesus ordered that they feed the hungry and shelter the poor, something that the Church is good at doing. Jesus didn't say anything about gays or lesbians. Unfortunately, the Church has interpreted that as persecute and then ignore them.
So much for charity.