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Bill Daley asks cardinal to rethink funding cuts over gay marriage

William Daley. File phoby Nausheen Husain~Sun-Times

William Daley. File photo by Nausheen Husain~Sun-Times

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Updated: September 3, 2013 7:17AM

SPRINGFIELD — Democratic gubernatorial hopeful William Daley called Wednesday on Cardinal Francis George to back off his threat to cut off funding to an immigrant-rights coalition because of its support for same-sex marriage legislation at the Statehouse.

“My view on marriage equality and those of immigrant-aid groups who have similar views really are irrelevant to our collective duty to help those who are less fortunate,” Daley wrote in a letter to George.

Daley becomes the latest and one of the most prominent political voices to date to join in the pushback at George for his targeting of the Illinois Coalition of Immigrant and Refugee Rights, which has come out in support for same-sex marriage in the state.

As a lifelong Roman Catholic, Daley said he was “proud our church has been such a leader on the issue of comprehensive immigration reform.

“But for the church to turn its back on its long-standing work with groups that aid the poor over a completely unrelated issue is an injustice, plain and simple,” Daley wrote in his letter.

“The path of justice should lead the Archdiocese to leave these two issues separate and continue to seek justice through charitable works,” Daley said.

Last month, Sun-Times columnist Mark Brown reported that the Catholic Church was angered at the immigrant-rights group for its May backing of same-sex marriage legislation, which George has actively opposed in Springfield.

The anti-poverty arm of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, The Catholic Campaign for Human Development, has funneled funds to several members of the immigrant-rights coalition. But their contracts with the religious organization bar them from advocating policies that run afoul of Roman Catholic positions. The Archdiocese of Chicago signs off on the grants.

When the Coalition of Immigrant and Refugee Rights made its position on same-sex marriage known, church officials began reaching out to grant recipients, informing them their funding would end unless they left the coalition and came out against gay marriage.

George has accused the immigrant-rights group of imposing a potential financial hardship on its members through its backing of the Religious Freedom and Marriage Fairness Act, a position the cardinal said was “extraneous to its own purpose.”

Last weekend, several political leaders signed an open letter to George urging him to back off his threat against the immigrant-rights group. Those who signed the letter include Cook County Commissioners John Fritchey and Larry Suffredin; Chicago aldermen James Cappleman (46th), Patrick O’Connor (40th), Proco “Joe” Moreno (1st), and Danny Solis (25th); City Clerk Susana Mendoza; and retired Cook County Judge Maureen Durkin Roy.

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