Nonprofit Newswire | November 16, 2009

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The Nonprofit QuarterlyCatholic Church gives D.C. ultimatum
Nov 12, 2009; Washington Post | The Washington D.C. City Council is headed towards legalizing same-sex marriage but the social service arm of the Church, Catholic Charities, has announced it will have to abandon its city contracts if the law passes without exempting the Church from having to offer spousal employee benefits to gay partners, to recognize and allow adoptions by gay parents, and other policies and practices that the Catholic Church might find objectionable.  This wouldn’t be an issue warranting Catholic Charities warnings were it not for its delivery of DC-funded social services (AP reports that Catholic Charities received $8.2 million in DC funding for service delivery during the past three years; the New York Times says that Catholic Charities serves 68,000 people annually, including 1/3 of the City’s homeless in its homeless shelters).  Having just published an exposé of abominable District government oversight of AIDS service providers, the Washington Post editorialized that there ought to be some provisions made to exempt the Church from having to shed its service provision role in Washington. According to Church spokespersons, the Catholic Charities threat wasn’t made to defeat the same-sex marriage bill, but simply to explain the business impact of the law on its operations: the Church, according to one, could be “open to civil suit and/or deprivation of governmental benefits for refusing to recognize the equivalence of same-sex marriage and traditional marriage in a host of settings in which, if the institution were to provide equivalent recognition, it would breach its own fundamental beliefs.” No, we don’t buy it. As a columnist for the conservative Washington Examiner noted, the Catholic Church’s activism against including abortions in health insurance and against same-sex marriage in DC is a “newfound political assertiveness” and “heightened political engagement” on public policy issues. A columnist for posited that “The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Washington is holding poor people hostage in order to keep gay and lesbian persons from getting married. They are willing to trade the indigent for getting their theological way…[I]t is profoundly disturbing that the Roman Catholic Church appears to be using threats and fear to manipulate a democratic political process to enforce Catholic doctrine regarding abortion and human sexuality.”—Rick Cohen

The Nonprofit QuarterlyCleveland considers asking hospitals, nonprofits to pay fee
Nov 15, 2009; The Plain Dealer | We at the Nonprofit Quarterly have been following this trend for weeks now. See here, here, here, here, and here. Localities are increasingly imposing fees on nonprofits as an attempt to close budget gaps. Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson said last week that he’s open to the idea of asking nonprofits to pay a fee. Consultants for the city expect an annual fee to bring in at least $5 million annually. A spokesman for the Cleveland Clinic pointed out that the health system already gives back to the local economy with jobs, free medical care and other contributions. The Sisters of Charity Health System, which includes the downtown St. Vincent Hospital, said that any “additional fees would be difficult to absorb and detract from our mission to provide quality urban medicine to all who walk through our doors.” What’s clear is that as long as local economies struggle, fees on nonprofits will remain an option for cities and towns struggling to fill gaping holes in their budgets.—Aaron Lester

The Nonprofit QuarterlyNonprofit journalism spreading
Nov 13, 2009; Billings Gazette | As Nonprofit Quarterly has reported several times here in the Newswire, in the Cohen Report, on this Web site and in the upcoming fall issue of the Nonprofit Quarterly now at the printer, there’s a recent increase in the creation of nonprofit news sources. The most recent came Friday in Wyoming as reported in the Billings Gazette. The Cowboy State Freepress is a nonpartisan Web site that will report on issues related to Wyoming State government. According to Sue Wallis, the Cowboy State Freespress’ executive director and Republican State Senator, “the ability to cover news on a state government basis is just disappearing.” This new venture received $74,000 in start up funding from an anonymous funding consortium that is reportedly funding similar ventures in as many as 20 states. This group of donors is described by Wallace as “interested in limited government and free-market activities.” Take that, liberal media. The Cowboy State Freepress is still developing its business plan but will not charge users for its material.—Kristin Barrali



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