By James Tillman

WASHINGTON, DC, November 16 (—Members of the D.C. City Council have continued to refuse to address the Archdiocese of Washington's concerns that a bill to legalize same-sex “marriage” would injure the poor by forcing Catholic Charities either to support a violation of Catholic teaching or drop government social-service contracts.

“If the city requires this, we can't do it,” Susan Gibbs, archdiocesan spokeswoman, told the Washington Post. “The city is saying in order to provide social services, you need to be secular. For us, that's really a problem.”

As previously reported, the “Religious Freedom and Civil Equality Amendment Act of 2009,” which passed committee 4-1 last Tuesday, would require District organizations receiving government money to follow certain regulations regarding same-sex “marriages.”  Under the currently contemplated law, this would mean that Catholic Charities would be required to work to place children with same-sex “couples” or support same-sex “partners” through spousal benefits.  Rather than support something in contradiction with core Catholic teaching, however, Catholic Charities has said it would cancel its social services contracts with the city, although it would continue to provide non city-contracted social services.

Many have painted the Church's stance as an attempt to force the hand of the city council.

“It's a dangerous thing when the Catholic Church starts writing and determining the legislation and the laws of the District of Columbia,” said Councilman Tommy Wells.  Other members of the Council spoke similarly.

“I don't want to be cavalier in dismissing [the Church],” Councilman Phil Mendelson told the Washington Examiner. “On that other hand, I don't think the council will legislate by threats.”

Outside of the council, advocates of homosexual “marriage” similarly portrayed the diocese's action as an attempt to advance its agenda by holding the city's poor for ransom.

“It's shameful of the Church to put its dogmatic position above the needs of the needy people receiving these services,” said Marianne Duddy-Burke, executive director of the self-described “Catholic” homosexualist organization Dignity USA. 

According to Dr. Patrick Deneen of Georgetown University, however, to cast the issue in such a light is to fundamentally misconstrue the conflict.

“Without a set of broader legal exemptions allowing for the Church to remain faithful to its definition of marriage, it will cease to be permitted by the City to provide the contracted and licensed services that it has for well over a century,” he pointed out. “The Church's fundamental desire in this controversy is to continue its desire and freedom to serve.”

Archdiocesan spokeswoman Gibbs shot back at critics, saying, “We are not threatening to walk out of the city.”

Instead, she said, “the city is the one saying, 'If you want to continue partnering with the city, then you cannot follow your faith teachings.'”

One member of the City Council, Yvette Alexander, had attempted to pass an amendment to the bill that would have allowed individuals to refuse to provide services contrary to their religious beliefs.

“Let's say an individual caterer is a staunch Christian and someone wants him to do a cake with two grooms on top,” she said. “Why can't they say, based on their religious beliefs, 'I can't do something like that'?”

Her proposed amendment, however, was shot down.

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