Tom Reese, S.J., over at "On Faith" offers a thorough examination of the brewing controversy in Washington that is pitting the church against the DC city council. As Michael O'Loughlin noted earlier, the archdiocese has threatened to stop offering social services if it is forced to abide by a proposed council resolution on same-sex marriage.
Here's a snippet:
For decades, Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Washington has received money from the District of Columbia to operate programs helping the poor. This is common throughout the country where the Catholic Church is the second largest provider of services to the poor, second only to the government. Catholic Charities competes with private and nonprofit agencies for these contracts with the government deciding which organization will provide the best services for the money. This is a good deal for state and local governments because these Catholic Charities programs are efficiently and effectively run with both professionals and volunteers.
Meanwhile, the City Council for the District of Columbia has decided to enact legislation forbidding discrimination against those in gay marriages. This legislation would not force churches to perform gay marriages or to change their moral doctrines, but it would require any organization with a contract with the District to provide medical benefits to a gay partner just like it provides them to the heterosexual partner in a marriage. It would also require adoption agencies to sponsor children to gay couples if the agency is under contract with the city.
Not surprisingly, the members of the city council are much better at spinning this story with the media than is the archdiocese. The Catholic Church's PR skills are dismal. Perhaps it was caught by surprise by the vehemence of the attack. The dispute is being portrayed as the Catholic Church versus gay rights even though everyone knows that Black ministers in Washington are also opposed to this legislation.
Let's be clear. The city has a right to set whatever conditions it wants on agencies that receive money from it. But the church also has a right to say, "Sorry, we can't accept money under those rules."