The widening campaign by U.S. gay rights advocates to promote same-sex marriage as a civil rights issue is forcing Catholic and other religious institutions to confront charges of intolerance and discrimination.
Also at risk, say Church officials working on the legal front, is the way religious institutions and individuals opposed to same-sex marriage conduct business from hall rentals to receiving government contracts for social services.
Recently, the Diocese of Peoria, Ill., withdrew from all state-funded social service contracts, citing increasing clashes between state law and Church teaching on same-sex relationships.
The Diocese of Rockford stopped offering state-funded adoptions and foster care services when the Illinois civil unions legislation took effect June 1.
In 2006, Catholic Charities in San Francisco and Boston stopped adoption placements when laws required equal treatment of applicants in same-sex relationships.
Elsewhere, including New York where a same-sex marriage law took effect July 24, Church institutions are carefully monitoring how such laws are being applied and are vigilant for threats to religious liberty in the areas of taxes, housing, education and employment.