Catholic Church Threatens Funding Of Illinois Immigration Groups Over Marriage Equality Support

Human dignity apparently takes a back seat to opposing marriage equality.

The Catholic Church is once again engaging in vindictive retaliation against groups it has funded in the past because of their support of marriage equality. Groups local to Illinois who support the state’s Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights have all been warned that their funding could be in danger because the Coalition spoke out in favor of legislation to legalize same-sex marriage. Though the position represented a majority of the Coalition’s members, the Catholic-funded groups didn’t sign on to the statement in advance.

The Catholic Campaign for Human Development, the bishops’ anti-poverty arm, has threatened all the groups that they must leave the Coalition or lose their future funding. Among those that could be impacted are Catholic Charities, Latino Union, Resurrection Project, United African Organization, Centro de Trabajadores Unidos, Albany Park Neighborhood Council, ARISE Chicago, Chicago Workers Collaborative, Interfaith Leadership Project, and Most Blessed Trinity. A meeting later this week will determine if some minds can be changed or if a compromise can be found.

This is hardly the first time the Catholic Church has punished its own beneficiaries over the issue of marriage equality. In 2012, it cut funding for a homeless agency in Sacramento because the agency’s director supported same-sex marriage. Catholic Charities of Colorado threatened to shut down if the state passed civil unions last year, even though that version of the bill included an exception to allow the adoption agency to continue discriminating against same-sex couples. After Washington, DC legalized marriage equality in 2010, Catholic Charities stopped offering partner benefits to all employees to avoid having to provide benefits to gay employees. That same year, the diocese of Portland, Maine abandoned funding for a homeless shelter that also came out for marriage equality.

If the Catholic Church follows through on this ultimatum with these Illinois groups, it would prove that it places a higher priority on opposing marriage equality than supporting poor people or immigrants.