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Religious Freedom at Stake in DC Gay Marriage Bill

Contact: Jeff Walton, Institute on Religion and Democracy, 202-682-4131, jwalton@TheIRD.org

WASHINGTON, Nov. 17 /Christian Newswire/ -- The District of Columbia City Council is moving to pass a bill next month that would recognize same-sex relationships as marriage. The council has refused to exempt religious organizations or individuals from the mandate to treat same-sex couples as married. If the council majority persists, and if Congress does not intervene, Christian ministries could be forced to provide benefits to same-sex partners of employees, to place children for adoption with same-sex partners, and to offer counseling and support to same-sex couples.

When the Catholic Archdiocese of Washington indicated that its charities would have to obey church teachings rather than the council's mandates, and therefore Catholic Charities might become ineligible for city social services contracts, council members reacted harshly. According to Washington Post coverage, Mary Cheh called the archdiocese "somewhat childish." David Catania suggested that Catholic Charities were not "an indispensable component of our social services infrastructure" and could easily be replaced. "It's a dangerous thing when the Catholic Church starts writing and determining the legislation and laws of the District of Columbia," fumed Tommy Wells.

The Post reports that DC Catholic Charities "is the largest non-governmental contracted provider for DC citizens in need." Its $20 million in city contracts provide services such as homeless shelters, medical clinics, and tutoring programs to 68,000 residents.

The IRD has published a paper examining the impact of marriage upon public life. It is available at www.TheIRD.org/marriagepaper

IRD Vice President Alan Wisdom commented:

"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.

"All those who value their religious freedom should be up in arms at this attempted coercion of consciences. 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."