Double standards

When the House recently passed a healthcare bill which included restrictions on the use of federal money to subsidize abortion, liberals were up in arms.  “It restricts choice!” they cried.  Let’s oppose it!  Let’s vote down the entire bill even if that means more people in the country will remain uninsured.

Now the Catholic Church in Washington D.C. is being told that in order to receive government funds, they must abide by a new D.C. anti-discrimination law in all their charities and employment practices in those charities.  The Church in Washington – part of a much larger, global organization – feels that it cannot submit to those rules and therefore will be forced to refuse said funds and close the doors on a number of the charities they currently run.

Liberals are once again up in arms.  “What about the homeless?” they cry.   “How dare they not change their fundamental religious beliefs when that means leaving more homeless and poor without charitable services!”

Something about this smacks of double standards.

And thus we come to a very fundamental aspect of government involvement in just about everything.  The government limits choice.  The trade-off can be worth it.  It may mean less affordable abortions but more people covered.  It may mean gay people are given the right to wed, but religious charities have fewer dollars to provide for the poor.

The point I’m making is that there is such thing as consensus, but it usually comes at a cost.  It can’t simply be that everyone gets what they want, nor is it merely a question of ethics.  Reasonable people disagree on issues like abortion.  And we have a system of government that separates church and state, for better or worse.  This leads to concessions and compromises and trade-offs and people are always unhappy at the end of the day.

If we want government health care, maybe we have to give up federally subsidized insurance plans that cover abortion.  If we want gay marriage in D.C. and we also want religious charities to keep doing their good work, maybe we have to make exceptions for those institutions on religious grounds.  Or we can refuse them funding and find ways to implement those charities via the state or some other private charity.

Either way, I see pro-choice advocates and the Catholic Church doing very similar things here.  They’re both up in arms about the government making rules about how they spend the government’s money.  But it’s the government’s money, or rather it’s our money.  And that’s the way it rolls in a representative democracy.  Deal with it.

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29 thoughts on “Double standards

  1. Individuals should be allowed to purchase the insurance they want without interference. If I choose a policy that allows for breast implants, or naturopathy, so be it. It’s a wonder that the Catholics have been so easy on their members that accept employee insurance that covers abortion. Shouldn’t good Catholics refrain from taking benefits that might be used to end life?

    It’s important to provide services. It’s more important for individuals to be allowed to choose their service and for the political arena to be secular rather than religiously dictated. If Catholics don’t want an abortion, more power to them, don’t get one. Don’t require that that option be off the table for everyone else.

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    • Yes Cas, you should, unfortunately you can’t. Current laws in various states require that any insurance sold in said state include a laundry list of coverage’s that must be included.

      I think Catholics are well within their rights to ask that their tax dollars not be used to fund abortions for other people. I’m not in love with the Stupak amendment because of some insurance implications, but I’m not opposed to it either. And I’m very adamantly pro-choice.

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      • My tax dollars are used for all sorts of things that I don’t agree with. These same taxes are used for the death penalty and poorly thought out wars. Why the huff over SSM. Aren’t there even more abhorrent uses of our money from a religious perspective? Perhaps not.

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  2. When it’s your ox that is being gored, you need to understand that we live in a Nation of Laws and if you don’t like it, you can always move to Somalia.

    When it’s my ox that is being gored, you need to understand that I have Human Rights that are being violated and if you don’t like the fact that other people have Human Rights, you can always move to Somalia.

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  3. What’s with you getting your facts wrong? The DC anti-discrimination law is not new. It has been illegal to discriminate against people based on their sexual orientation and their marital status in the District since the 1970s.

    http://ohr.dc.gov/ohr/frames.asp?doc=/ohr/lib/ohr/pro_acts_of_discrimination.pdf

    The only thing that is new is that gay couples will now be able to claim marital status. The Catholic Church seemed to be ok with treating gay couples equally, so long as they weren’t given the M-word. Now they’re just using the pending marriage equality bill to roll back gay rights.

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      • There has never been a case brought against the Church for anti-gay discrimination in DC. Since the church has been following the law up to this point there would be no reason for the District to cancel its contracts.

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          • No one has ever brought a case for not providing benefits to a same sex partner, which leads me to believe that Catholic Charities in DC does not employ many partnered gay people.

            As far as adoptions, Catholic Charities handles a minimal numbers of adoptions in the District each year. Again, given the small number, and the lack of lawsuits, I would imagine that either no gay couple had sought an adoption through Catholic Charities, or that Catholic Charities had no problem with the adoption, so long as the couple didn’t call themselves married.

            We know for sure that this was the case in Boston. Catholic Charites of Boston had placed about a dozen children with unmarried gay couples, as the state anti-discrimination law mandates. It was only after gay couples were allowed to marry that the charity decided to break the law.

            Why don’t you actually do some research yourself? Or just read the DC Human Rights Law, which I linked to?

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              • What would that compromise even look like? Are you really saying that the state should prohibit gay couples from getting a marriage license because the Church doesn’t like calling them married? Should gay people who ever wish to have any interaction with the church be forced to get a domestic partnership instead of a marriage? Or should they just tell the church that they’re domestically partnered, even though they’re actually married? I’m really not sure what you want gay people to do here.

                The church is trying to create a 2 tiered system for gay couples, whereby those that have a mere domestic partnership have more rights than those who are married. I don’t think that’s right.

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                • I’m saying that if the city requires the Church to abide by specific rules or else withhold funding it’s downright stupid to blame the Church for not providing services for the poor since they no longer are being given the money by the city for those services. It’s the city, not the Church, cancelling contracts here. If it were a Muslim charity the same rules would apply, and the same judgments, etc.

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                  • You are right. However, at least in the news pieces that I initially read on this, credit the Church for bringing this up. It had the air of coercion to it. Perhaps it was the initial reporting that’s at fault here and the Church is more than happy to quietly move its resources to states that have regulations that are consistent with the Church’s teachings.

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                  • That’s not the way it works though. There is no law, to my knowledge, that says “you must abide by this non-discrimination policy, or we will withhold funding.” Rather, we have the blanket Human Rights Act, which is one of the most broadly constructed anti-discrimination laws in the country.

                    If an individual feels that their rights were violated under the Human Rights Act, they can bring a suit before the Human Rights Commission. Upon a finding of discrimination, the Commission may issue injunctive relief and award damages including front and back pay, compensatory damages, civil penalties, and attorney’s fees.

                    That gives the Chruch a few options. They can continue to abide by the Human Rights Act, and not risk any suit, as they have been doing up to this point. They could violate the law, which would open them up to the possibility of a lawsuit. Or they can stop providing services in the district altogether.

                    It seems they have premtively decided to stop providing services rather than risking a lawsuit. No where does it say that the government must cancel all contracts. Any legal damage done to Catholic Charities would be entirely the result of an individual citizen filing a non-discrimination claim.

                    Ultimately, this whole scuffle revolves not around the pending marriage bill, but the Church’s new-found refusal to obey the District’s longstanding non-discrimination law. That’s their perogative. But it’s hard to see this as anything but the Church trying to gain leverage to undermine the upcoming marriage law.

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  4. I see this as a good example of why we should never ever elect conservatives. They ruin everything.

    Give no money to churches. If they like charity with government funding so well they can run a secular one. Or they can choose not to. Just don’t give religions tax benefits, and don’t restrict their speech.

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  5. I don’t see any double standard here at all. But I do see hypocrisy from the Catholic Church. The Stupak amendment doesn’t just prevent public funds from being used for abortions, it prevents private money too. We already have a law banning public funds for abortions called the Hyde Amendment passed in 1976. Stupak goes further and says private insurance companies that get government subsidies can’t cover abortion EVEN in their private insurance plans. Stupak essentially combines public and private funds.

    And the Catholic Church pushed for the Stupak Amendment to be this way, combining insurance companies’ private and public funds. The Catholic Church which has private money it uses to campaign against abortion and same-sex marriage with one arm, and the other arm is getting public funds and tax exemption status for it’s charity work. So why is there a one standard for insurance companies and another standard for Catholic Churches?

    Furthermore, why is the Catholic Church so scared gays even WANT to work at their churches and get married in them? Because they know many of their own members are gay. So, they’re punishing every gay person in the country just punish their own gay members of their church.

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  6. Churches should not receive federal money in any case ever – they’re humanitarian efforts should be completely self funded. They already receive a huge benefit from government in the form of tax exemptions, there is certainly no need for any more funds.

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  7. When the House recently passed a healthcare bill which included restrictions on the use of federal money to subsidize abortion, liberals were up in arms. ”It restricts choice!” they cried. Let’s oppose it! Let’s vote down the entire bill even if that means more people in the country will remain uninsured.

    You don’t link to anybody here, because this is a big straw man. The 39 Democratic No votes are mostly conservative Democrats. There are a couple liberals, like Kucinich and Baird, who voted no, but liberals overwhelmingly supported the legislation. So nothing about this “smacks of double standards.”

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  8. Why exactly is anyone or any organization entitled to government subsidy? Especially organizations that don’t pay taxes, mobilize themselves in the political arena anyway, attack politicians based on purity checks to adhere to doctrine dictated from a handful of acres overseas, ad nauseum.

    Mr. Kain your entire premise is tenditious, cynically conflating the obligation of a representative government to provide common services with religious organizations’ desire to separate “us” from “them”.

    Private worship is separate from subsidized public services. Rome is entitled to be as doctrinally pure as it wants to be… on its own tithe.

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  9. Ugh, E.D., I’m sorry for being so angry. Let me just try to explain what’s setting me off.

    Lots of liberals endured the indignity of voting for a bill containing a provision they consider deeply odious, because passing health care reform meant so much to them. It just annoys me to see liberals in general get criticized as if they’d done the wrong thing, when they actually came through and did the right one.

    I see that now that a fraction of them are playing ultimatum games. (Which doesn’t bother me much, as centrists in the House and Senate have been playing these games to great effect for months now, and there’s little to be said for unilateral ultimatum disarmament.) But really, give them credit for what they did, because when the major decision point came, they did the right thing, and it was what you wanted.

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