11/16/2009 05:38 pm ET Updated May 25, 2011

DC Catholic Charities: Let's Risk Children's Lives to Defeat Gay Marriage

From The Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Washington D.C.'s website:

"We offer help and hope to children and parents in need, including expectant mothers looking for a good adoptive home for their unborn child. Our foster care program offers abused and neglected children a haven of rest, while our parenting program helps parents avoid the pitfalls that lead to abuse."

That is, of course, unless the good people of the District of Columbia decide to extend the rights of marriage to gay people. Then, as far as the Catholic Charities of D.C. (the "CCDC") is concerned, those children at risk can go hang.

In his October 26 testimony before the District of Columbia's hearing on its Same-Sex Marriage Bill, Edward Orzechowski, President and CEO of the CCDC stated that the bill would cause Catholic Charities to close its doors to all of the people in need who have come to depend on their services.

Without robust protections for religion, this legislation forces us into a position of either violating the law or ending necessary services to the poor. . . . The bottom line is that this bill as written would hurt the children, families and men and women who count on Catholic Charities, our parishes and other religious entities to give them the care, the respect and the dignity they deserve to renew their lives.

As incoherent as it may seem, the Archdiocese of Washington D.C. on November 12 reiterated their threat to close the CCDC's doors and cease its efforts on all fronts -- even those efforts that are not in any way related to the bill -- if the District of Columbia does not amend its plan to extend marriage to gay couples in the District.

The CCDC's reasoning is this: Because it would be in fundamental opposition to their faith, they could never place a child with a gay couple, or provide gay employees spousal benefits. Therefore, they could not work in partnership with the District's government in any aspect of Catholic Charities.

However, as DC Councilman David Catania pointed out in his questioning of Mr. Orzechowski, of the 102 District of Columbia Board Adoptions in 2008 -- in other words Public Adoptions -- the CCDC participated in just six. Mr. Orzechowski tries to contest that that doesn't include the private adoptions that the CCDC arranged, but, as Mr. Catania then points out, those private adoptions would not be affected by the proposed bill and it's only the public adoptions "for which you are threatening to withhold [services] if you are not allowed to essentially discriminate in a way that is consistent with your beliefs."

I've become somewhat offended as I try to reconcile this and I'm told that you're going to take your ball and go home if you don't get your way with respect to adoptions. . . . I find it offensive that this is not your private solemnization of weddings, your solemnizations of services. This is when you enter the public square and you ask for public money to provide services and then when it comes to your employees, you don't want to provide benefits to equally married people or you don't want to place children in the parts of the community that are also funding you. I find it very hard to swallow.

In the District of Columbia, the infant mortality rate is nearly twice that of the national average. As reported by the Center for Disease Control, the national average for infant mortality (death before one year of age) is 6.77 per 1,000 live births. The same study estimates that at present in the District of Columbia the rate has come down to 12.2 per 1,000 from the 14.1 per 1,000 reported by the 2005 Census Bureau Study. This represents one of the worst rates of infant mortality in the United States (in this our nation's capitol). Obviously, these statistics don't even begin to take into account the children who make it beyond one year of age only to live in extreme poverty, suffer physical/sexual abuse, neglect, malnutrition and all the various inner-city pathologies that lead to crime, drugs and shortened life expectancy.

This begs the following question: Is the Archdiocese of Washington D.C. actually openly threatening children who depend on its charity (75% of that charity is provided by the American Taxpayer, by the way, as Orzechowski admits in his testimony) simply because the good people of the District of Columbia plan to extend the franchise of marriage to gay people? Are the lives of these children so expendable that the Catholic Church is willing to abandon them to maintain its codified demonization of homosexuality in the public square?

And let's not forget the rest of CCDC's mission: The homeless, people living with developmental disabilities, people living with mental illness, immigrants and refugees and adults and families in crisis. Have all of these people been reduced to nothing more than bargaining chips for the CCDC to coerce the government into allowing them to continue their homphobic discrimination on the public dime?

There's a word for threatening harm to a group of innocent people for political gain. It's called terrorism.