Uncertain future for Catholic Charities after gay marriage bill


The D.C. Council passed a bill legalizing same-sex marriage this Tuesday, despite threats from the Catholic Church that it would terminate all social services contracts with the city if the bill passed.

Catholic Charities currently provides services to 68,000 District residents. If Catholic Charities continues its social service contract with D.C., it would need to comply with the new city law by providing equal spousal benefits to same-sex couples.

The Catholic Church is currently working with City Council to modify the bill in a way that would allow Catholic Charities to continue providing social services while maintaining D.C.’s recognition of same-sex marriages. The legislation will be subject to a final vote by the Council in two weeks before reaching Mayor Adrian Fenty’s (D) desk.

“We’ll continue to work with members of the Council,” Susan Gibbs, spokesperson for the Archdiocese of D.C. said.

Although many council members have cited Georgetown University—which extends spousal benefits to any adult partner without explicitly recognizing same-sex marriage—as a possible model for Catholic Charities, Gibbs said the comparison is not relevant.

“It was a different issue at a different time,” Gibbs said.

That explanation has not satisfied the Gay and Lesbian Activists Alliance of Washington, D.C., a local gay rights organization that has advocated for same-sex marriage.

It’s outrageous for them to try to hold the city hostage,” Rick Rosendoll, GLAA Vice President for Political Affairs, said. “I think they’re trying to bully the city into getting their way, with the idea perhaps that they can get Congress to intervene on their behalf.”

However the possibility of Congressional intervention appears less likely, according to Ben Young, Chief of Staff for David Catania (I-At Large) (SFS ‘90, LAW ‘94), the council member who introduced the bill.

“There’s always a fear, but we feel reasonably optimistic that Congress will respect the District’s home rule,” he said.

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Cole Stangler

26 COMMENTS ON THIS POST To “Uncertain future for Catholic Charities after gay marriage bill”

  1. Kurt says:

    Personally I don’t think any concession should be made to the Catholic Charities. Discrimination should never have an exemption made for it. Unlike the Catholic church which is self-funded through its members and can do what it wants, Catholic Charities has a fiduciary responsibility to the general public if they choose to utilize public funding. Allowing them an exception to discriminate against gay people would be the equivalent of allowing the KKK to utilize public funds to feed the homeless and continue to discriminate against black people.

  2. Rich says:

    This is ridiculous. Catholic Charities is holding social services hostage. Are they really so evil to think that making everyone they serve suffer because lucid, intelligent PEOPLE want to make their own decisions is somehow a good idea? How is this spreading the word of love?

    Shame on Catholic Charities – whomever supports this decision to CHOOSE TO MAKE PEOPLE SUFFER will go straight to hell.

  3. Ted says:

    So Kurt wants no discrimination does he? He is prepared however to advocate discriminate against objections of concience.The Catholic Church has a set of moral values which Kurt is prepared to belittle and, aparently, demand as a “right” that practicing catholics act against their concience. Come on Kurt declare your orentation;I am straight and am NOT a catholic but am against Pernicious Coercion (PC to you)

  4. Ted says:

    Ah Rich. What have we here? A good o’l helfire and damnation preacher?

  5. Jesus says:

    Catholic Charities should have concessions.An legalizing same-sex marriage if completely wronnnnnngggggg on so many levels. Marriage is hitstorcally a religious institutioin. As most of the major religions in the world (Christianity,Islam, and Judaism)frown upon homosexuality itself, therefor this is unacceptable to permitting the right for gay couples to marry!

  6. Shawn Mills says:

    This is absolutely ridiculous. I am Catholic and gay myself and I can honestly say I am ashamed at my church today. Despite what should be my inalienable right to love whomever I choose, the well-being and survival of those less fortunate should NOT be used as a black-mailing tool. I don’t care what BS anyone wants to give about an “objection of conscious.” The Catholic Church believes in two paramount teachings from Jesus which sum up all other laws in the Bible: 1) Love thy God above all things. 2) Love thy neighbor as thyself. If you truly love God you will love his children, and if you truly love his children you will not use their well-being as a bargaining tool. This is utterly, unarguably, inexplicably WRONG on so many levels.

  7. The real issue is how the Catholic Hierarchy will meet the world. Will it engage it, or will it simply claim privilege.

    Gay Marriage is not a matter of belief, it is about whether the US Constitution applies to us or not. The whole issue of religious conscience on this matter is part of the smoke and mirrors game which would allow for the promotion of homophobia rather than the constitutional based rights.

    I would argue if it is alright for the Catholic hierarchy to discriminate against gay people in employment following this logic than it should be ok for Baptists to disciminate against Catholics, Episcopalians, etc. This indeed is a slippery slope.

    Simply put this is about sectarianism. As a Gay Catholic I am ashamed that Archbishop Wuerl is promoting this view. He needs to approach this matter with love in his heart, and not dogmatism.

    What really is amazing to me is the silence of gay Catholics in his Cathedral Church of St. Matthews the Apostle on this matter.

  8. Peggy says:

    I sincerely hope that the Council will cooperate with Catholic Charities to find some compromise wording that will allow it to continue its essential mission without violating its principles. No organization should be forced to choose between its conscience and its mission to serve.

  9. Fitz says:

    “Marriage is neither a conservative nor a liberal issue; it is a universal human institution, guaranteeing children fathers, and pointing men and women toward a special kind of socially as well as personally fruitful sexual relationship. Gay marriage is the final step down a long road America has already traveled toward deinstitutionalizing, denuding and privatizing marriage. It would set in legal stone some of the most destructive ideas of the sexual revolution: There are no differences between men and women that matter, marriage has nothing to do with procreation, children do not really need mothers and fathers, the diverse family forms adults choose are all equally good for children. What happens in my heart is that I know the difference. Don’t confuse my people, who have been the victims of deliberate family destruction, by giving them another definition of marriage.”

    Walter Fauntroy- Former DC Delegate to Congress Founding member of the Congressional Black CaucusCoordinator for Martin Luther King, Jr.’s march on DC

  10. Steve says:

    There is no way a person who calls themselves “Catholic” can be pro-gay marriage, pro-abortion. The Church is putting “it’s money where it’s mouth is.” It is not bending to the will of the minority. It is saying “This is who we are. This is what we believe.”

    I think it is the people who expect the Church to change who need to re-evaluate what they are expecting. A religious community is not a democracy, nor should it.

  11. Chris Mulcahy says:

    Gays have rights! They can have marriage, too, if they marry someone of the opposite sex. As for a partner of the same sex, they can have narriage, barriage, farriage, or other relationships starting with a letter other than m. Marriage, however, involves sex oriented toward children. Children are small humans. Our forefathers figured out they need one male and one female parent. You can redefine a rock as a loaf of bread, but you can’t eat it. Sorry, gays.

  12. It’s time DC.

    And kudos to CT which just celebrated the one year anniversary of its marriage equality law.

    Onward to equality,
    Joe Mustich, Justice of the Peace,
    Washington, Connecticut, USA.

    And lets not forget that marriage is firstly a civil matter in America, as marriage licenses are issued by and recorded in town halls not church halls or mosques or temples.

    So to the marriage police, sexually phobic, and flat earthers, please find another issue to focus on in the 21st century, because life’s just to short. Find love….

  13. Nate Barton says:

    “It was a different issue at a different time.” — Susan Gibbs, spokesperson for the Archdiocese of D.C.

    Well, one things certain. It’s a different time.

    It’s time to tax the Catholic Church. The Church wants to be political then let it pay taxes just like everyone else.



  15. JeffreyRO5 says:

    Wow, who knew Catholics were so evil! Using needy children as hostages to get its way? I just don’t get these Catholics. They don’t mind giving employment benefits to people who use birth control or have had abortions or have gotten divorces, these are all things against Catholic doctrine. Why on earth are they singling out gay people for punishment?!

  16. JeffreyRO5 says:

    “Marriage, however, involves sex oriented toward children.”

    Uh, ok. Except when couples use birth control or get abortions, when infertile elderly couples are allowed to marry, etc.

    Do you have any idea how RARELY sex is engaged in for the specific purpose of conceiving a child?!

    Marriage has NOTHING to do with children. You don’t have to have children to get married, and you don’t have to get married if you have children. Tell me again how marriage and children are related!

  17. Fred says:

    You speak of evil and hate. I don’t see that. I see a group of faith that helps others of any and all beliefs and only asks that their beliefs be respected. Don’t expect them to change their faith over such issues.

    I’ve seen sisters and church members tend the bed of the dying poor. Myself, I’ve spent many nights making dinner for the homeless and serving as overnight security at a MN homeless shelter.

    Any and all are welcome. We don’t preach or judge. We serve their needs for food, shelter, security and respect by listening to them talk. Such service is beautiful and an expression of our faith.

    Go see the acts of charity before you judge Catholics as evil. It is painful for me to hear Catholics compared to the KKK since the KKK historically persecuted Catholics.

  18. Gazza says:

    It is indeed unfortuante that some people who call themselves Christian or Catholic have, irrespective of what they may think, no idea what they pontificate. In reality the issue is simple to resolve.

    The Christian believes, knows the Bible is the inspired word of God and being so is the absolute authority for determining what is right and what is wrong.

    Sadly, these so called “Christian” gays either have trouble comprehending God’s directive regarding homosexuality, or just go on pretending in their fantaasy world, to be something they are not. The word of God is very explicit calling homosexuality an abomination and great wickedness.

    As for marriage these gays are really a joke. Sometimes people overlook the obvious. Should anyone need reminding of the basic fact? Ideally marriage, or a sexual union between a male and female is the only way to naturally procreate our species. And incidentally this is the ideal and best environment for the rearing of children.

    The marvels of recent medical wizzardy may have somehow blurred the issue. But the stark fact is that the wrongness of same sex “marriage” is patently obvious. They cannot naturally produce children. Within about 100 years humanity would cesase to exist.

    As God said, “a man shall leave his FATHER and MOTHER and be united to his WIFE.” Not being homophobic here. Just stating the facts, the God given facts.

  19. Jimmy in Los Angeles says:

    If Catholic Charities finds that they can not provide social services to the poor and possibly have to deal with same-sex partners in their organization, then maybe it is time for them to give up their contracts with the city, and allow another group to provide the services.
    It DOES demonstrate, though, that the Church cares more for politics than the poor. Jesus would be so proud of them.

  20. Brandon Withey says:

    I’m going to make myself all shades of unpopular here… Don’t really care.

    Under the following circumstances:
    * A company is privately owned rather than a corporate entity.
    * An organization receives no funding from a government institution.

    They have the right to act on their conscious. This means I feel that Catholic Charities (So far as they fall under the second circumstance) has the right to refuse assistance to ANYONE they choose. I believe in a free America, as a melting pot. This means I believe each of us has the right to act on their religious, political, and moral standings.

    The Catholic Pharmacist who OWNS his pharmacy (Or it is family owned and not incorporated) has the right to refuse to dispense birth control.

    I won’t be bringing my business there, but he has that right.

    Privately owned OB/GYN offices have the right to not perform abortions if it conflicts with their morals.

    I won’t take my daughter there.

    And the KKK has the right to help the Caucasian homeless but not those of other ethnicity.

    It won’t make me like them any more.

    But all of these, ALL of them are people taking their religious, political, and moral beliefs and applying them in ways that may not be HELPFUL, but are not directly harmful. (The individual may be in no better place than they were before, but they are also in no worse).

    Now, I am aware that Catholic Charities receive not only government funding, but government contracts to do their work. Both of these should be eliminated if they are unable to live up to the discrimination laws working as a government agency or government subsidy requires.

    I would hear you cry ‘isn’t that discrimination against Catholics?’ No. It isn’t. If said Catholic organization were able to work within the laws required than they would be permitted to continue their work and continue to receive funding.

    This is much the same as a company not being required to hire a quadriplegic to work on a production line in a chicken processing plant. No, we can’t hire you to fill that role, there are no ‘reasonable accommodations’ we can make to make it possible for you to perform the job.

    Allowing you to violate the Constitutional Protection against Discrimination from a government body is not a reasonable accommodation we can make.

    However, to avoid violating them is something YOU can do, by following the words of your own holy text.

    “Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everybody. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Do not take revenge, my friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord. On the contrary: “If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.” Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good (Romans 12:17-21).”

    That is all.

  21. Tom Samp says:

    First, any Churches that accept government funding should observe civic laws. If not, and they are still interested in caring for the needy, then they should provide CHARITY, dig deeper…sell some tax-free property, or fine art, or dip into the legal fund, to make ends meet…Sacrifice.

    Second, we need to learn about the history of marriage and its role in preserving property rights. There’s a lot of sanctimony out there without a lot of knowledge.

    Finally, gay marriage is not harmful to children, or to anyone, who chooses not to marry a partner of the same sex. What is harmful to children is sanctioned marriage to those who abuse children, or spouses, or engage in truly harmful behavior.

    If the Church insists on bringing unwanted pregnancies to term, then one would think the Church would be glad to help a loving and responsible same-sex couple adopt children who enter the world with virtually no parents, of either gender.

  22. Jimmy in Los Angeles says:

    Brandon – I didn’t state it anywhere near as eloquently as you did – but I’m with you on that. If they don’t take public funds, they can do whatever they feel their beliefs require. But if their beliefs require that they discriminate, they should get out of the “charity” business if it requires public money.

  23. We have heard in this discussion about the word of God. If we Christians so clearly understand that word than why do we have so man Christian religions?

    Or for that fact why was the division even between the Easter and Western Church necessary, not to mention the reformation in the West.

    When it comes to the bible we all approach it on a cafeteria style, that is we interpret it. What is being questioned is the interpretation as applied to same sex marriage.

  24. Hunter says:

    Here is a good video on DC gay marriage/Catholic Charities services with interviews from both sides of the issue: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yWPV6KpUab0

  25. Sam says:

    First of all, please don’t call yourself gay and catholic. Either your GAY or your Catholic not both. The church condones gay marriage as do Baptists, Pentecostals (myself included), Jews, Muslims, etc. Im glad the Church is threatening to cut services.

    When will people realize that the catholic church is the number 1 social service provider after the government. Since it is a private institution it should have a right to exclude gays since it goes against its teachings. If you want to be gay and christian just go to an episcopalian church and leave the catholic church: its that easy.

    Can people not respect straight peoples opinions as well? The gay community also discriminates against straight people as they say we are all evil and don’t allow them anything. Homosexuality is a lifestyle not something you are born with. This is why I look down upon it.

  26. Sam says:

    Joe murray, stop being a clown. And to you that say that the church takes public funds. Catholic charities HELP MORE PEOPLE OUT THAN ANY OTHER PRIVATE CHARITY does and is second only to the government.

    Second, if you know had studied theology or paid attention in class which most of you haven’t done, (please take Theo-043 or theo-121) you would know that Catholics don’t take the bible literally as Evangelicals do. So stop with the bible quotes as you obviously look like you have no idea what you are talking about.

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