Catholic Church leadership seems to be stepping up its role in actively oppressing women and queer people. First came the Vatican’s appeal to Anglicans who do not want women or openly gay people as priests. Then the United States Council of Catholic Bishops used their influence to build support for the Stupak amendment. Now the Catholic Archdiosese of Washington is threatening to abandon its social services work over a proposed same sex 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.
D.C. social services are in bad shape. The closing of a major homeless shelter and budget cuts have worsened the situation in a city already struggling to serve its poor and homeless residents. As someone who organizes for access to abortion I have obvious problems with gaps in the services provided by Catholic Charities. But that does not discount the vital work they do for the 68,000 D.C. residents who rely on Catholic Charities for shelters, health care, and food programs.
The Archdiosese is making a clear statement: it considers keeping rights from same sex couples more important than the needs of this city’s most vulnerable. Their willingness to use the lives and health of 68,000 people in need as pawns in their fight for the right to discriminate is unconscionable. D.C. needs more social services, not less. I hope the Archdiosese can put aside the politics of hate for a moment to recognize what I would think they would consider a moral obligation to do vital life saving work.