DC, Catholic Church in Gay Rights Standoff
Church to pull plug on social programs if marriage bill passes
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 12, 2009 3:04 AM CST
Archbishop Donald W. Wuerl of Washington DC speaks at a news conference during the US Conference of Catholic Bishops.   (AP Photo/ Steve Ruark)

(Newser) – The Catholic Archdiocese of Washington has told the District of Columbia it will tear up its social service contracts to help the city's needy if it passes a proposed same-sex marriage bill next month. The bill wouldn't require the church to perform or provide space for gay marriages, but would require it to obey laws banning discrimination against gays and lesbians. Church officials say that's something they simply can't do, the Washington Post reports.

Social programs affecting 68,000 people, including a third of the city's homeless, would be affected if the church makes good on its threats, but lawmakers have signaled that they won't bow to the archdiocese's demands. "If they find living under our laws so oppressive that they can no longer take city resources, the city will have to find an alternative partner," said one council member, noting that the church has received almost $9 million in city contracts since 2006.