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  • Sacrificing for Religious Liberty: Same-Sex Marriage in Washington, D.C.

    Foster Kids and Religious Liberty in DC

    With the decision by U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts to deny a stay requested by proponents of traditional marriage, the District of Columbia’s same-sex marriage law takes effect today.  Anticipating that event, the Catholic Archdiocese of Washington took another step to comply with the law’s terms this past Monday. Rather than begin to offer spousal health insurance benefits to the partners of any homosexual employees of Catholic Charities, the Diocese has chosen to end such benefits for all new employees, effective today.  The benefits will also cease to be available to the spouse of any current employee who had not already elected the coverage.

    One District official who had previously clashed with the Diocese over its decision to seek a robust religious exemption from the same-sex marriage law seems unfazed by the Catholic Church’s new decision. D.C. Council member Tommy Wells (D-Ward 6), who voted for same-sex marriage, said “Catholic Charities is a private, nonprofit corporation. They can choose to provide benefits to families and spouses or not.”

    This outcome protects the right of the Archdiocese of Washington to preserve a policy it views as central to its character and mission. Marriage in the Catholic view represents “the covenant of conjugal love freely and consciously chosen, whereby man and woman accept the intimate community of life and love willed by God Himself.” In addition to maintaining its freedom to determine the character of its charitable work, the Diocese’s decision allows a set of invaluable social services to continue. Catholic-run shelters in the nation’s capital, for example, serve about one-third of the city’s homeless.

    The litigation over the same-sex marriage bill will continue irrespective of last night’s ruling from the Supreme Court, as advocates of traditional marriage strive to get the issue on the ballot for a public vote. In the interim, another toll of the new law is clearer. Husbands and wives of future employees of Catholic Charities will sacrifice health insurance coverage, a benefit that recognized the importance of the family unit. The “clash of orthodoxies” is not a victimless conflict.

    What’s more, the idea that major changes in civil society can be implemented without profound clashes of principle is clearly false. Marriage is not an insular institution, even if, as here, it can be insulated to a degree from public policy. The Archdiocese of Washington has asked the Church’s adherents to bear the brunt of the new policy, but the coming clash was visible to city officials who chose conflict over compromise.

    Posted in Culture [slideshow_deploy]

    20 Responses to Sacrificing for Religious Liberty: Same-Sex Marriage in Washington, D.C.

    1. Chuck Anziulewicz says:

      I know there is all kinds of wailing and gnashing of teeth among the usual social conservatives over this … but let me reassure you: The advent of marriage equality for Gay couples will have absolutely ZERO effect on "traditional marriage." The first state to allow Gay couples to marry, Massachusetts, still has the lowest divorce rate in the country. In all the states where Gay couples are allowed to legally marry or enter into civil unions, Straight couples continue to date, get engaged, marry, and build lives and families together as they always have. To be honest, if you think that YOUR marriage is going to suffer because the Gay couple down the street is allowed to get married also, I think YOU'RE the person who needs counseling.

      From a purely Constitutional standpoint, marriage equality for Gay couples has been a long time coming. The only difference between Gay and Straight couples is the sexual orientation of the two people in the relationship. It has nothing to do with religion, since the only thing a church can offer any couple is a ceremony; it is the federal government that bestows the 1,138 legal benefits, according the Government Accounting Office.

      It also has nothing to do with raising children, since a couple does not need to be married to have children, nor is the ability or even desire to have children a prerequisite for obtaining a marriage license.

      This is about equal treatment as stipulated by the 14th Amendment. You can quote Scripture until the cows come home, but the fact remains that there is simply no Constitutional justification for denying law-abiding, taxpaying Gay couples the exact same legal benefits, protections, and responsibilities that Straight couples have always taken for granted.

    2. John k says:

      The catholic church deserves to never be able to find another employee who will work for it after this ridiculous, childish, selfish, and abhorrent decision to cut off spousal benefits. New would-be employees should go to a different charity that is actually in it to help people rather than to advance it's agenda. I can't wait until catholic charities is obsolete, and the more they act like this, the sooner that will be.

    3. April, Colorado says:

      If Catholic Charities wants to take this stand, then they won't mind doing without the tax-free donations from all of those wonderful gay Christians.

    4. Patricia,Waverly says:

      I applaud the Catholic Church. If you are a homosexual, you are NOT a christian, plain and simple. God did not create Adam and John or Jane and Eve…….God created Adam and Eve!!! Homosexuality is a SIN!!!

    5. Patricia,Waverly,NY says:

      I applaud the Catholic Church. Homosexuality is a SIN

      If you are homosexual you are NOT a christian. God did not

      create Adam and John or Mary and Eve……..GOD created ADAM and EVE.

    6. Ben says:

      This is the Catholic Archdiocese of Washington's choice and not necessarily representative of the Church’s adherents. There are no victims here apart from those who choose to be victimized. The Archdiocese exercised its rights allowed by the US government to end these benefits. While I don't agree I do respect the Archdiocese's rights and hope they respect mine in return. Anyone victimized by the Archdiocese's choice must now make his/her own choice.

      Chuck Donovan surely agrees that the Catholic Archdiocese of Washington has benefited from major changes in civil society previously implemented in the US.

      Freedom from religious persecution perhaps?

    7. Andrew, Arlington VA says:

      Forget the Catholic Church. Does HERITAGE have to provide benefits to gay spouses under its health plan?

    8. Dennis Social Circle says:

      May God forgive those that are so blind!!!!!

    9. J.C. Hughes, Texas says:

      According to the New Testament, "Give unto Caesar what is Caesar's and unto God what is God's." Such is the Christian's version of separation of church and state. If the marriage of same sex adult couples is sanctioned by state law, so be it. "Give onto Cesar". But if the church chooses not to recognize homosexual unions because it violates basic tenets of their faith, then respect " …what is God's".

      My primary concern are children raised in homosexual households. Be nice to see some (unbiased) longitudinal studies showing how they coped having same sex parents.

    10. JeffreyRO5 says:

      Catholic Charities is behaving childishly. Why are they singling out gay people? Am I to believe that they also deny benefits to single employees who have had pre-marital sex, committed adultery or gotten a divorce? How are their faith beliefs denied by giving health insurance benefits to the spouse of a gay person? Weird.

    11. Ron, Lakeland, Flori says:

      One question. Can gays procreate or self propagate? NO! They propagate by recruitment, indoctrination or forcing their lifestyles on others! The term gay Christian used in one of these blogs is an oxymoron! There are many churches that are actually cults and not truely Christian or they would adhere to biblical principles. The gay lifestyle is a choice pure and simple. There is no scientific evidence to prove otherwise. This lifestyle not only goes against biblical principles it also goes against natural law. There is a psychological term for this condition called GDP or Gender-Disorientation Pathology.

    12. Nat, Los Angeles, CA says:

      It is misleading to suggest that this is a necessary move for the principle of religious freedom. Up until now, Catholic Charities seems to have been fine with providing benefits for legally-recognized spouses -even if that marriage would not have been recognized by the Church-. They had been willing to provide benefits to spouses even when one member of the couple had been previously divorced. Had Catholic Charities ever requested the right to discriminate on that basis?

      This was, rather, a matter of trying to use a presumption of piety to influence politics. And there is a financial benefit for them, cutting back on benefit expenses (particularly at a time when existing employees' spouses may be losing their jobs in this economy, and thus may have applied for benefits.

      Would Jesus have sought to deny people health care support because they were sinners?

    13. Gary, Indianapolis says:

      It would be great if the Catholics simply closed the charities. If the Christian community is to be denied their freedoms in favor of imposing others freedoms, maybe we should simply stop. No more homeless shelters for the 1/3; we will send them over to the governors home.

    14. Billie says:

      Got that right, Dennis.

      If I ran a catholic charity and somebody was working for the benefits and not the charity, I wouldn't at all feel bad if they quit. Weed out the hypocrites.

    15. Pingback: How To Fix A Troubled Marriage

    16. Sam, Massachusetts says:

      I grew up a god fearing confirmed Catholic lesbian women who has not stepped in a church for anything other than a family obligation since roughly the middle of my undergrad degree. I have a deep and firm spiritual belief in God and Jesus and all of the humanistic doctrine of the Catholic Church. I even felt, for a time that, I was in fact a sinner for engaging in a same sex relationship just as my straight roommate who was having premarital sex. However I believed that my sins would be absolved and my final judgment would be between god and myself. I left the church not because of my sexual orientation but because the sermons seemed to me to becoming more about the damnation than about loving god supporting one another and learning to be a good person. It was through this process that I realized that loving my partner with the blessing of god and raising our children to be loving charitable members of our religious community was not a sin. It is a shame that the Catholic Church lost the opportunity to have in their flock four very loving and giving family members who have found a home with god elsewhere. PS I feel blessed that I was born and raised in Massachusetts where we are valued having a stable marriage.

    17. April, Colorado says:

      HR commentaries always stir up hatred toward people of color and people of other faiths and in this case, people with a different sexual preference. Use your powers of discernment. Read between the lines. Where do the HR essays lead you? They all lead to some kind of discrimination. I think that it is particularly ironic when they point out the discrimination of others and then twist it around to somehow be proof that your freedom of religion is in jeopardy.

      What protects our freedom of religion is the law. That's why the separation of church and state is so important. The law protects us from others who would control us and even do us harm based on religious beliefs. That includes Christian beliefs.

      If Catholic Charities discriminates against their employees based on sexual preference, then they are breaking the law. Religious organizations are not exempt from obeying the law.

    18. Billie says:

      boy, that's too bad, April. You are fully engulfed in collective thinking. You are the one that has always been stirring the hatred. You use skin color as if the skin color poses ideas. As if skin color makes decisions. As if skin color taxes more on other skin colors. As if skin color is character. What is your problem? You sound like a racist.

      Sexual preference is just that. A choice to have sex and a choice to have it the way you want. All within the choice of Mankind. And if they choose to have it the way it is against God's will they are a contradiction of the teachings of the church therefore are unqualified to participate.

      Catholics believe in doing the will of God, not the will of mankind. Why would they want someone who lives in opposition of God's will, working for them?

      Charities of religions should have a right to discriminate based on their beliefs and carrying them forward. Do Muslims hire gays to work at their charities?

      Bet not!

    19. April, Colorado says:

      Billie, if you consider upholding the Constitution "collective thinking", then so be it.

    20. Dave, Atlanta, GA says:

      @Chuck Absolutely agree with you 100%. I think the government should offer those 1,138 legal benefits to ALL AMERICAN CITIZENS, single or not.

      FAIRTAX.org!!

      More single people paying higher taxes and no mutual benefits so the insurance companies get more money too. Maybe that's why the government didn't allow same sex marriage. It’s impossible to claim anyone who isn’t your parent or child as a dependant.

      If you are health Insurance company would you rather the two gay men pay $135ea/month ($270/month) or have a family plan for $185/mo? Why does there even have to be a family plan?

      Can’t insurance companies come up with a plan that fits your age group and be done with it?

      Why does my company have to PROVIDE health insurance? I’d rather have the money and purchase my own. Let the government allow full deduction of insurance, mortgage and interest on primary residence, taxes from other entities. Let me take the tax deduction not my company. If I switch employers I have to change health insurance…why?

      @Patricia

      You're a SINNER too. No stoning!

      Jesus Christ commanded us to love one another as He loves us.

      Too many churches, mosques, synagogues covens and temples teach fear and hate. And all of them profess it to be the will of their god/teacher/goddess/et al.

      The best thing we can do is be a light (example) to the world (others).

      Condemning people and telling them they are going to hell for sexual immorality isn't really helping is it? I once told a gay friend that homosexuality is a sin, just like any of the other sins, and that I don't believe it is God's will. God, to me, isn't grey when it comes to sin. But, if he wasn't a Christian he shouldn't have any concern. And if he is a Christian then it's between him and Christ and I certainly didn't have to forgive nor condemn him. Judgment is for Christ alone.

      We don't have to tolerate it though. You have the right to not tolerate gay marriage in your home, your property, your life, and you’re church. That's it. But in our intolerance we CAN NOT sin.

      The government has the responsibility to treat every human being fairly through its law (NOT GOD'S LAW). The government hasn't been fair in many ways. And it's time to change that.

      Could you imagine if Leviticus were adopted as part of the United States Codes?

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