Disinformation? Outright lies? Scare tactics? What else would you expect from an organization claiming to represent the word of God? But the Archdiocese of Washington D.C., which is helping lead the losing fight to keep same-sex marriage out of the nation’s capital, isn’t above breaking the Eighth Commandment. You know, the one that says, “You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.” AKA: Don’t lie, peon!
As the City Council wraps up its hearings on gay marriage — interrupted by a marriage proposal — before moving to vote, the Roman Catholic Archdiocese submitted an unconvincing argument that the Religious Freedom and Civil Marriage Equality Amendment Act of 2009 will subject it to wild litigation fantasies, relays Catholic News Agency:
Representatives of the archdiocese spoke at an Oct. 26 hearing before the D.C. City Council’s Committee on Public Safety and the Judiciary. They argued that the law would endanger Catholic services to the general public.
In written testimony, the archdiocese opposed the legislation and “any effort to redefine marriage as any other than that between a man and a woman.” The archdiocese voiced “deep concerns” that the bill would restrict religious freedom if it is passed as drafted.
To continue the archdiocese’s service to the poor of the District of Columbia, the archdiocese testified, a “meaningful” religious exemption is needed to ensure that the government “will not suppress its religious exercise in such a way.”
In its support, the archdiocese cited a legal analysis of the bill by the Williams & Connolly law firm, which said the expected effect of the bill would put the archdiocese in an “untenable” position under the First Amendment unless religious conscience protections are expanded.
“The District will effectively force the Archdiocese either to violate the law or to abandon forms of religious practice – care for the poor, hungry and homeless – that are fundamental to the practice of Catholic social teaching,” the law firm commented.
In addition to overturning the definition of marriage, the legislation has no exemptions for churches, religious organizations such as the Knights of Columbus or religiously-owned nonprofits such as Catholic Charities if they provide services to the general public or rent space to individuals or groups outside of their faith.
According to the archdiocese, six prominent legal scholars including Prof. Robin Fretwell Wilson of Washington & Lee University have independently submitted a letter to City Council Chairman detailing serious religious freedom problems with the legislation.
“They note that religious organizations are at risk of lawsuits if, for example, they decline to offer their facilities to same sex couples or to limit married student housing to couples of the opposite sex,” the archdiocese said in a press release.
Other risks for religious organizations and individuals who cannot recognize same-sex “marriages” include the denial of access to government contracts and access to government facilities, such as leases. Licenses for objecting doctors and social workers could be revoked while child care licenses could be denied.
The proposed law could also allow lawsuits against those who do not provide same-sex benefits to employees and could result in the revocation of the accreditation of religious colleges.
Not to worry: We hear the Catholic Church has an excellent legal team.
(Pictured: The Most Reverend Martin D. Holley, Bishop of the Archdiocese of Washington, D.C.)