The Archdiocese of Washington (a division of the Catholic Church, Inc.) has threatened to take its ball and go home if the City Council of Washington D.C. persists in its pursuit of a law that would allow same-sex couples to marry. The law, which protects churches by not requiring them to let space or compel them to participate in these unions, would also prevent the Catholic Church from discriminating against LGBT people. Apparently that …
The Archdiocese of Washington (a division of the Catholic Church, Inc.) has threatened to take its ball and go home if the City Council of Washington D.C. persists in its pursuit of a law that would allow same-sex couples to marry. The law, which protects churches by not requiring them to let space or compel them to participate in these unions, would also prevent the Catholic Church from discriminating against LGBT people. Apparently that is not acceptable. Since they can’t get their way through rational discourse (if such a thing exists in this arena) they have said that if the law passes as it is they’re just going to have to stop providing social services such as adoption, homeless services and health care. The actual terminology, as reported by the Washington Post, was that they “would have no choice but to abandon their contracts with the city.” Here’s where the, “Oh, yea?” you usually hear on the playground comes in: the city has funded Catholic Charities (a wholly owned subsidiary of Catholic Church, Inc.) over $8M between 2006 and 2008 and several hundred thousand this year. Council member David Catania, the primary sponsor of the law, said, “If they find living under our laws so oppressive that they can no longer take city resources, the city will have to find an alternative partner to step in to fill the shoes.” The Washington Post also pointed out the impact of the threat to cease providing adoption services – Catholic Charities had only participated in 6 out of 102 city-sponsored adoptions last year.
Donors Not Wanted
It makes perfect sense that accepting a liver for transplantation from a heavy drinker would be a pretty dumb idea, right? How about lungs from a smoker? Another bad idea, right? Well, that happens. In fact, in 2007 a soldier in the UK received a double lung transplant from a donor that smoked over 2 packs per day; he died of lung cancer less than a year later. Those who try to find a silver lining on every cloud might say that he lived a year longer than he would have if he had not had the transplant, but he would likely have lived longer if he’d received slightly less contaminated lungs.
Common sense seems to have escaped some in the medical community, as evidenced above and by the continued prohibition against sexually active gay or bisexual men donating blood, regardless of their HIV status. In spite of developments in HIV testing that have dramatically improved the detection of the virus and shortened the window of time in which it can be detected, this ban still exists in the U.S., Canada, UK and other countries. Several countries, like Spain, Italy and New Zealand, have rescinded this ban, while the UK is reconsidering the policy. In the midst of increased need for blood and organ donations, Britain’s National Health Service and the Advisory Committee on the Safety of Blood, Tissues and Organs are reviewing this policy. The changed demographic of those affected by HIV and historical incidences of HIV infection by blood donation weigh heavily in the decision, with health officials in the UK noting that 55% of new HIV infections in 2007 were among people who were likely infected through heterosexual sex. They also note that HIV infections through blood donation have resulted in two cases of HIV transmission since 1985.
The Mormons What?!
Last Tuesday the Church of Latter Day Saints endorsed two Salt Lake City ordinances prohibiting discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity in employment and housing. Read that again. I still don’t believe it either. But wait – it gets weirder. Elder Jeffrey R. Holland, an apostle of LDS, praised the ordinances and sees them as a model to spread statewide, leading some to believe these ordinances could become law statewide in Utah’s 2010 legislative session. There’s got to be a catch, right? The Salt Lake City ordinances contain a loophole that excuses churches and small businesses. Salt Lake Tribune reports that the religious exemption applies to City Creek Center condos, which are owned by LDS. The spokesman for LDS, Michael Otterson, was no doubt referring to this exemption when he referred to them as being “common sense rights.”
No, the story doesn’t end there. In being complimentary of the nondiscrimination ordinances that do not apply to his church, Otterson went on to add that they “do not do violence to the institution of marriage.” State Rep. Christine Johnson has expressed her gratitude to LDS, referring to them as being fair and compassionate, while pointing out, “The church has helped establish, with clarity, that establishing a policy of nondiscrimination in no way compromises the integrity of marriage between a man and a woman.” I guess they wanted to make sure we didn’t think they were going soft on us. That old “protect marriage” meme might be taken a little more seriously if LDS hadn’t redefined marriage twice, once when plural marriages began in Ohio in 1833 and again in 1890, when its president signed a manifesto renouncing the practice of polygamy (even though they continued the practice). This manifesto, and LDS’s promise to stay out of politics, paved the way for Utah to achieve statehood in 1896. Can we sue them for breach of contract?