Gay catholic group urges DC to reject church’s demands

Gay MarriageThe gay Catholic group Dignity USA is urging the D.C. City Council to reject a demand by the Catholic Archdiocese of Washington that it amend a pending same-sex marriage bill to allow its charitable arm to discriminate against gay employees, the Washington Blade reports.

Dignity weighed in on the brewing controversy over the city’s pending same-sex marriage bill after Catholic Charities, which is run by the Archdiocese, said it would discontinue operating dozens of city-funded programs that serve as many as 68,000 low-income people if the Council doesn’t make certain changes in the bill.

“It’s shameful of the church to put its dogmatic position above the needs of the needy people receiving these services,” said Marianne Duddy-Burke, Dignity USA’s executive director.

“I would encourage the City Council to say, fine, we’ll take our programs to another vendor,” Duddy-Burke said.

An official with the Archdiocese said the version of the Religious Freedom and Civil Marriage Equality Act of 2009 approved Nov. 10 by a City Council committee narrowed rather than broadened a religious exemption clause that the Archdiocese and other religious groups had been calling for.

The bill does not require religious organizations to perform same-sex marriages or make their facilities available for such marriages. But under existing laws, including the D.C. Human Rights Act, religious organizations like Catholic Charities would be barred from denying benefits to their employees’ same-sex married spouses.

The DC Council is expected to pass the gay marriage bill this year — eleven of the 13 council members have gone on record as saying they will vote for the bill — and Mayor Adrian Fenty has said he would sign it.

Full story at the Washington Blade.

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