Saturday, February 20, 2010

Same-Sex Marriage in DC

The DC city government is in the last stages of finalizing a law allowing same-sex marriage in the district and that has brought the city into conflict with local Catholic groups. On Wednesday, the Washington archdiocese "ended its 80-year-old foster-care program in the District rather than license same-sex couples."

Apparently Catholic Charities -- which receives $20 million in funding from the city to run programs serving homeless families and victims of domestic violence -- is looking to find a way to re-structure their benefits and hiring to comply with the DC law but not officially "recognize" the marriages. But foster care was an insurmountable disagreement.

I have a lot of respect for the work the Catholic church does in the world and not being Catholic, it is really none of my business what they decide to do. But I simply do not understand how gay marriage is the issue that trumps all the others. How does that make any sense? Even if you truly believe that same-sex marriage is wrong, what is moral calculation at work here? Is it really better for these kids to be wards of the state than to live in a loving home with two foster parents of the same gender?

To be clear, the DC law does not force the church to recognize or perform same-sex marriages (how could it?) - it just asks contractors who receive tax dollars to comply with the city's non-discrimination laws.

Anyway, Andrew Sullivan (who is both devoutly Catholic and openly gay) uncorks a bit of righteous irritation at the double standards here:
A simple parallel: does the Washington diocese's charities employ any people who have been civilly divorced and are now re-married under DC law? If so, how are these individuals less offensive to the teachings of the Church on the institution of marriage than a member of a gay couple provided civil marriage licenses?

Catholic doctrine is very clear: a remarried person is not remarried in the eyes of the Church, and for the Church to employ such a person would be to recognize a civil marriage that violates one of its core principles. There are infinitely more of these individuals than there are gay Catholics or gay non-Catholics who might want to help the homeless or serve the poor or provide foster care for an abandoned child. Catholic Charities might - Heaven forfend - have to provide spousal benefits to a member of a heterosexual couple violating Church doctrine about matrimony in exactly the same way. And almost certainly, they already do all the time.
Good question. Also interesting are the words of this anonymous employee of Catholic Charities who writes in with the view from inside the organization.

No comments: