Councilmembers Dig in Heels on Catholic Threat
Council Chair Vincent Gray, and Council Members Mendelson and Evans
It doesn't look like the Catholic Archdiocese is going to be winning this battle.
Yesterday, the Washington Post reported that the Catholic Archdiocese had issued an ultimatum to the D.C. Council: If you require us to extend same-sex marriage benefits to gay couples, we'll stop running city-contracted social service programs. These programs include many homeless shelters, in addition to adoption and health care support. (This entire issue is, of course, contingent on the District's same-sex marriage bill passing, which it is expected to next month.)
In the last two days (day 1, day 2), the Post has gathered a number of reactions from D.C. Councilmembers suggesting they're not ready to give in and allow city money to be used to discriminate against gay couples.
- Ward 1 Councilmember Jim Graham had originally hoped to reach a compromise with the church, but has since altered his stance after "reviewing same-sex marriage laws in New Hampshire, Connecticut and Vermont," where the Church has not abandoned social services.
- D.C. Council Chairman Vincent C. Gray (D) can't imagine "'where the compromise would be: It seems to me if they choose not to provide those services, we will have to find someone else,' Gray said."
- Ward 5 Council member Harry Thomas said "the Church, which has tax-exempt property and often interacts with the city government, should be wary of picking a fight."
- "'They don't represent, in my mind, an indispensable component of our social services infrastructure,' said David Catania, the sponsor of the same-sex marriage bill and the chairman of the Health Committee."
- "Council member Phil Mendelson (D-At Large), chairman of the judiciary committee, said the council 'will not legislate based on threats.'"
- Ward 3 Councilmember Mary Cheh "said she hopes the Catholic Church will reconsider its stance. 'Are they really going to harm people because they have a philosophical disagreement with us on one issue.'"
Image by Darrow Montgomery