In a Washington Post story, the Catholic Archdiocese of Washington is threatening to cease their adoption and homeless programs in D.C. if the City Council doesn’t change a proposed gay marriage law.
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 members of the City Council indicated that they would not be swayed by the Catholic pouting, and if the Catholics decided to cancel the contracts, so be it.
The church’s influence seems limited. In separate interviews Wednesday, council member Mary M. Cheh (D-Ward 3) referred to the church as “somewhat childish.” Another council member, David A. Catania (I-At Large), said he would rather end the city’s relationship with the church than give in to its demands.
“They don’t represent, in my mind, an indispensable component of our social services infrastructure,” said Catania, the sponsor of the same-sex marriage bill and the chairman of the Health Committee.
I’m glad to see the Council standing up to the church, which seems to be hastening its own slide into irrelevancy on several fronts. Many of us are trying to remove religion from everyday American life, and sometimes, like now, the religions even lend a hand, and expose their own bigotry and uselessness.