By Kathleen Gilbert
WASHINGTON, D.C., November 25, 2009 (LifeSiteNews.com) – The Catholic governors of Maryland and Virginia have teamed up to criticize the Catholic archdiocese of Washington, D.C. for stating that they would end their contractual relationship with the district, if a same-sex “marriage” law lacking religious protections was passed. Virginia's outgoing Governor Tim Kaine has been classified as pro-abortion by pro-life groups and has a very mixed record on same-sex issues. NARAL has labelled Maryland's Governor Martin O'Malley as “pro-choice” and the governor has been a supporter of marriage rights for homosexuals.
The city's proposed same-sex “marriage” law, the “Religious Freedom and Civil Equality Amendment Act of 2009,” would require all groups receiving city funds to give spousal benefits to “married” partners of homosexual employees. While the Archdiocese has said they shall continue privately-funded social services programs, they say the law would force them to end programs that depend on funding from the District. Previous attempts at including stronger religious exemption language have failed.
The archdiocese's position has been widely denounced as an attempt at intimidating the district into not passing the law.
“I'm Catholic, and I think it's wrong. I don't think you take your ball and go home,” Virginia Gov. Tim Kaine said on Washington's WTOP radio station Tuesday. “I think the strategy of threatening to pull back, it doesn't seem like the church I've come up in.”
Joining Kaine on the Hands Across the Potomac program, Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley concurred, saying, “I have a hard time believing that the nuns and priests who taught me about the Corporal Works of Mercy would agree that this is an appropriate response for the Church.”
“I would be very, very disappointed here or anywhere else if the Catholic Church decides 'Gosh, we don't like something that's happening in civil society, so we're going to retreat into our shell,'” said O'Malley.
In an op-ed piece for the Washington Post last week, D.C. Archbishop Donald Wuerl responded to critics of the diocese's position, saying that “despite the headlines, there has been no threat or ultimatum to end services, just a simple recognition that the new requirements by the city for religious organizations to recognize same-sex marriages in their policies could restrict our ability to provide the same level of services as we do now.”
“It doesn't need to be that way,” said Wuerl, who pointed out that the Archdiocese's request for stronger protections for religious freedom in the bill is supported by the ACLU, the InterFaith Conference of Metropolitan Washington, and nationally recognized legal scholars.
“We recognize that the council is likely to legalize same-sex marriage,” wrote the archbishop. “It is the hope of the Archdiocese and Catholic Charities that council members will work with us to find a way to better balance interests so religious organizations that have served this city well for many decades may continue to provide services without compromising the tenets of their faith.”
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