The following comes from an April 17 story on Palo Alto Online.
With Catholic Charities facing allegations of discrimination from gay-rights advocates in Massachusetts, Illinois, and Washington, D.C., Palo Alto officials found themselves debating on Tuesday night whether the organization’s local chapter should continue to draw grant funding from the city.
On Tuesday night, April 16, the City Council’s Finance Committee decided that it should, despite an impassioned argument from a member of the city’s Human Relations Commission. If the council approves the committee’s decision in May, Catholic Charities of Santa Clara County will receive a $5,000 grant to provide ombudsman services to seniors at local assisted-living facilities.
The debate over religion and discrimination injected some controversy into what is usually a dry and straight-forward process to allocate more than $500,000 as part of the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) Program. The program, which is sponsored by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, focuses on programs that deliver housing, counseling and other social services to residents, particularly those of low and moderate income.
As part of a staff proposal that the Finance Committee approved Tuesday night, Catholic Charities would receive $5,000, the bare minimum under the CBDG process and far less than most of the other agencies set to receive funding under the current two-year cycle. The Downtown Streets Team Inc., a nonprofit that offers jobs and training to the homeless, is set to receive $248,753, far more than any other organization, while InnVision Shelter Network, which runs the Opportunity Center, would receive $76,662.
But the smallest grant stirred Human Relations Commissioner Claude Ezran to call for the city to stop funding Catholic Charities, citing the parent organization’s controversial practices elsewhere in the country. He cited the decisions of the organization’s Washington, D.C., and Massachusetts chapters not to offer adoption services to same-sex couples and the 2011 lawsuit filed against Catholic Charities by the ACLU and the State of Illinois, which accused the organization of discriminating against gay couples.
Ezran, who was one of two Human Relations Commission members to recommend cutting funding for the local chapter, said he based his recommendation of his view of the organization as one that “discriminates against gays, lesbians and unmarried heterosexual couples.”