WASHINGTON — The Catholic Archdiocese of Washington said Wednesday that it would be unable to continue the social service programs it runs for the District of Columbia if the city refused to change a proposed same-sex marriage law.
The threat could affect tens of thousands of people the church helps with adoption, homelessness and healthcare.
Under the legislation, which the City Council is expected to pass next month, religious organizations would not be required to perform or make space available for same-sex weddings. But they would have to obey laws prohibiting discrimination against gays and lesbians.
Fearful that they could be forced, among other things, to extend employee benefits to same-sex married couples, church officials said they would have no choice but to abandon their contracts with the city.
"If the city requires this, we can't do it," said Susan Gibbs, spokeswoman for the archdiocese. "The city is saying in order to provide social services, you need to be secular. For us, that's really a problem."