Various conservative Christians are cautioning that a compromise struck between the city of San Francisco and the Roman Catholic Archdiocese there could have a profound impact on expanding homosexual rights throughout the country.

Since 1991, city employees who register as "domestic partners" have received the same health and retirement benefits as married couples. Beginning in June, the same coverage will be required of any private or nonprofit organization that contracts with the city.

Initially, Catholic Archbishop William J. Levada, representing Catholic Charities—which has more than $5 million in city contracts—requested a religious exemption. Less than a week later, the archbishop and the city reached a compromise. The agreement allows an employee to "designate a legally domiciled member of the employee's household as being eligible for spousal equivalent benefits."

"In one fell swoop the city government is forcing more than eight thousand businesses, charities, and other agencies to equate homosexuality with marriage," says Randy Thomasson, assistant director of Capitol Resource Institute, a family-issues policy center in Sacramento affiliated with Focus on the Family. "This ordinance is not just a slippery slope. It's a leap off the cliff."

Levada is satisfied that the agreement will not require church agencies to "compromise our Catholic teachings on the unique importance of marriage and family."

RELINQUISHING TOO MUCH? But some Catholics and Protestants are concerned that the church door is open to further inroads by homosexual activists.

William Donohue, president of Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights in New York, hopes that a bishop elsewhere will file a lawsuit to send the message that "you ...

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