Calling the Church's Bluff On Gay Marriage

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Wednesday, the Catholic Archdiocese of Washington, D.C. drew a line in the sand, threatening to cut social services like charity for the homeless unless the city council agrees to kill a bill that would legalize same-sex marriage. According to The Washington Post, the Archdiocese is "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." Many pundits are rolling out attacks against the church's stance, arguing that the threat is mean spirited, and a tactic that will play poorly with the public.

  • The Catholic Church 'Marches Toward Antiquity'  The Church, Allison Kilkenny writes at TrueSlant, "needs to expand its consumer base, or it will become extinct like Greek polytheism or New Coke." And Kilkenny says waging a campaign against gay people — with the poor as a casualty — is not going to help win over young people, who support gay rights in large numbers. "What’s so strange is that the Catholic church itself seems determined to perish. Attitudes toward gay people are dramatically changing in this country, and yet the church remains stuck in its corner, fingers in ears, eyes shut, refusing to accept that the tide is turning."
  • The City Council Will Ignore Them  At AmericaBlog, Joe Sudbay says the Catholic Church's tactics won't fly. "Fortunately, the Archbishop's ploy doesn't seem to be working. The Catholic Bishops may control Congress, but they don't control the DC City Council."
  • The Church Needs To Come Up With Better Threats  At The Wall of Separation, Rob Boston of Americans United for Separation of Church and State says that in the end, there's no way the Church will reject the city's money. "Catholic Charities relies heavily on public money. In most parts of the country, the lion’s share of its budget comes from the public purse. In D.C. for example, Catholic Charities had an overall budget of $23 million for the fiscal year that ended in June of 2008. Of that total, $16 million came from the government."

  • Gay Marriage Bill Threatens Freedom of Religion  At The Foundry, Chuck Donovan puts the blame with the city council and its attempt to "redefine" marriage. "The draft bill not only put social services to the needy at risk, but it also would have required churches that operate facilities like reception halls to make them available to same-sex couples regardless of the churches’ religious teachings and practice." And Donovan says gay rights advocates in D.C. are hurting needy people. "In throwing down the gauntlet to its most active and effective charity, same-sex marriage advocates on the D.C. Council are aiming an iron glove at everyone from the homeless to children who need homes of their own."
  • Who Would Jesus Blackmail?  At The Reaction, Capt. Fogg says this really doesn't look good. "Consider the homeless of the streets, shall we let them starve if only two gay men are allowed to marry? Shall we let them die if we allow people to divorce? What other taboos must we as citizens observe before the Archdiocese of Washington will deign to obey Biblical commandments to help others?"

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.