''The legal recognition of same-sex unions poses a multifaceted threat to the very fabric of society, striking at the source from which society and culture come and which they are meant to serve. Such recognition affects all people, married and non-married: not only at the fundamental levels of the good of the spouses, the good of children, the intrinsic dignity of every human person, and the common good, but also at the levels of education, cultural imagination and influence, and religious freedom.''
From a pastoral letter approved by the US Conference of Catholic Bishops on Tuesday. The letter says homosexuality is contrary to natural law and is under no circumstance to be approved. It makes a number of arguments against gay marriage, primarily that male-female marriages alone can produce children, and then backs up their logic with some amorphous usage of the terms like ''original sin,'' ''sacrament,'' and a ''communion'' between a man, a woman, and the Church, Jesus and their interpretation of God's will. Homosexual persons, it claims, deserve acceptance with ''respect, compassion and dignity,'' then immediately says gay men and lesbians should only exhibit chastity -- that same-sex relationships are to remain as just ''friendship,'' like with a ''neighbor.''
A recent report showed a significant decline in heterosexual couples seeking marriages within the Catholic Church, both here in the US and abroad, over the last several years. This USCCB letter also strongly criticizes cohabitation, the use of contraception, and the availability of divorce. It does appear to permit divorce in the case of violence, yet said that the Church could not recognize any subsequent marriages even in those cases. The Church and the Washington Archdiocese are currently trying to prevent the DC City Council from ending the discriminatory exclusion of gay and lesbian couples from receiving equal marriage recognition. (USCCB)
''The church focuses on the right to discriminate, but refuses to consider the effect on the couple. They provide these services in other states where same-sex marriages are permitted, I do not understand why they would not be able to provide them here.... I think it is important that we continue to have a discussion with the archdiocese and other churches as they wish. But I do have to say, the way this issue has been approached by the archdiocese in the past week was tantamount to drawing a line in the sand and it may be hard for them to show some flexibility.''
DC Councilman Phil Mendelson speaking for the City Council of the District of Columbia which plans to pass the ''Religious Freedom and Civil Marriage Equality Amendment Act of 2009'' which will grant full access to marriage for gay and lesbian couples. Some religious groups have pestered the city's attempt at inclusiveness with complaints that same-sex marriage will stomp on their religious liberties. The Catholic Church and their nonprofit, Catholic Charities, in particular, have threatened to stop providing services to those in need of food, health care and education if they are not given millions of taxpayer dollars and the ability to say gay men and women are not worthy of spousal benefits. The city has already made one huge change to the law allowing far greater religious flexibility than it had originally planned. But the Archdiocese refuses to recognize that change, and the fairness that the bill provides to gay families, and their own need to concede or compromise for the sake of the needs of the people they claim they serve. The Council plans to vote on the bill on December 1, 2009 anyway. (Washington Post)
''It's a dangerous thing when the Catholic Church starts writing and determining the legislation and the laws of the District of Columbia.''
Tommy Wells, Ward 6 Councilman for the District of Columbia, who received his JD from Catholic University Columbus School of Law and is a strong supporter of the DC same-sex marriage bill. (Washington Post) (Tommy Wells)
''The demand for same-sex marriage has gone from toleration to tyranny. The DC government is prepared to force Christians to violate church teaching and become complicit in behavior that the Bible calls sin. This is just the kind of abuse against which opponents of same-sex marriage have been warning.... If Catholics are not allowed to be Catholic, none of us can rest secure in our liberty.... Wherever same-sex marriage has been available, only a small number have taken the opportunity. Yet, in order to satisfy that small minority, the DC council seems ready to put at risk 68,000 needy city residents. We see no signs of homosexual groups offering to open homeless shelters and medical clinics to fill the void if the Catholics are purged from the roll of city contractors.''
Alan Wisdom of the Institute on Religion and Democracy complaining for the Catholic Church about DC's upcoming same-sex marriage law. (Christian Wire News) His argument against the bill leaves out many of the facts and presents false assumptions:
- No one is forcing Catholic Charities or the Archdiocese of Washington to accept, reject, or comply with anything.
- Catholic Charities voluntarily asks for the DC government to provide it with millions of dollars of public, taxpayer funds.
- Not all religious and nonprofit organizations believe, as the Catholic Church does, in the need to treat the citizens of the District in an unequal and discriminatory manner.
- The Council and others have pointed out that there are other organizations who would eagerly comply with the law and serve the public's needs with this same money. The Council has recognized that Catholic Charities is one organization that does some good work, and has granted, up till now, that organization's requested funds.
- A significant part of the District's public funds come from a population that includes a high proportion of gay and lesbian taxpayers. Meanwhile, the Church pays no taxes on either income or property related to its religious mission.
- If, as he claims, the number of same-sex couples is so insignificant, then why would the Church make such a fuss about it in the first place?
- There indeed are a number of gay and gay-friendly organizations and religious institutions which do provide charitable services. Also, many LGBT people provide funds and work within non-gay-specific charities -- one being Catholic Charities itself, as was acknowledged by that organization's president.
It is the choice of the Catholic Church to request public funds. It is their choice to reject government contracts that require fairness and equality. It is the choice of the Church's leadership to vocalize and act upon their discriminatory belief system. And it is their choice to stop providing an alleged 68,000 residents with much needed assistance.
The head of Catholic Charities, Ed Orzechowski, is paid $268,000 per year according to Washingtonian magazine. From the millions of dollars that the taxpayers of DC have granted to Catholic Charities, that amount appears to indicate a significant portion is going to his paycheck alone. And Orzechowski, in return, testified on the record last month that he will not place parentless children with same-sex couples nor would he provide spousal benefits to gay and lesbian employees who are in legally committed marriages. David Catania, an openly gay member of the DC City Council, pointed out that Catholic Charities provided just six (5%) of the wards of the DC last year. Catania also pointed out that he had been (up until the Archdiocese delivered it's ''offensive'' testimony) the strongest supporter of Catholic Charities at the Council.