Monday, February 20, 2012

Colorado-Based Catholic Charities Threatens to Shut Down When Civil Unions Law Passes -- Despite Religious Exemptions for Charitable Services!

Colorado is currently debating the merits of a civil union law for gay and lesbian families. Last week, the Colorado Senate Judiciary Committee held public testimony on the the Colorado Civil Union Act. Somebody from Catholic Charities of Colorado testified that they would have to be forced to stop providing foster care and adoption services in that state if civil unions became part of the Colorado landscape -- despite specific legislative exemptions that would allow social services the opportunity to refuse foster care and adoption services for civilly unionized gay and lesbian families.

This was pointed out to the Catholic Charities representative, who acknowledged that piece of religious exemption and then asserted that Catholic Charities of Colorado would choose to discontinue foster care and adoption services despite religious exemptions because of the existence of civil unions. (By the way, the expression of the woman in the audience reacting to the Catholic Charities representative at the 6:35 mark is priceless.)

Later on, another Senator is concerned that a homeless civilly unionized family might seek homeless services in a shelter and the shelter might not be able to separate that family. Imagine a situation where Mark and I lose our jobs, our savings, and eventually our home and need temporary housing. Would a shelter service really be harmed if our family was allowed to stay together as a unit? Which parent should our minor son be allowed to stay with if the shelter objected to our family unit? And why should our family unit be split up and forced to take up even more space that could be used by other family units? I'm forced to wonder if we would be allowed to eat at the same table in a Catholic Charities-operated soup kitchen?

Later on, the Catholic Charities representative stated that they do not discriminate and they do not want to stop serving the public. However, they subsequently repeatedly their intent to cease all services despite religious exemptions.

How inhospitable has Catholic Charities become that it will stop providing charitable services for all people because someday it might be placed in the position to temporarily serve some people whose families they disagree with in some capacity? I hear a lot about the great works that they do for our society. However, I can't help but wonder about the litmus test that it apparently requires its recipients to pass before receiving emergency assistance?

Edited to Include: By the way, the Catholic Charities of Colorado representative points out how Catholic Charities of Illinois was "forced" to close because of that state's civil union law (which I don't believe specifically addressed religious exemptions for either foster care or adoption services -- though I could be wrong). Even though Catholic Social Services of Southern Illinois no longer exists, it and its services didn't actually close shop. Instead, they reincorporated as Christian Social Services of Illinois and continue to provide all of the same services they did before and without discriminating against the occasional civilly unionized family!

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