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WASHINGTON (BP)–The U.S. House of Representatives barely passed a measure blocking San Francisco from using federal funds to implement its policy of requiring businesses and charities having contracts with the city to provide benefits to homosexual and unmarried heterosexual couples.
The July 29 vote was 214-212 in favor of an amendment by Rep. Frank Riggs, R.-Calif., to a funding bill for the departments of Veterans Affairs and Housing and Urban Development. Twenty-five Democrats joined 189 Republicans in voting for the amendment. The House later approved the appropriations bill with a 259-164 vote.
Riggs introduced his amendment in response to a 1997 San Francisco ordinance mandating groups conducting business with the city must provide health and other benefits to homosexual partners of employees and to heterosexual partners to whom employees are not married.
The Salvation Army refused to abide by the ordinance and forfeited more than $3 million in funding from the city.
Riggs denied the legislation violated local autonomy.
“My amendment would not force localities such as San Francisco to change their laws, no matter how misguided,” he said in a written statement after the House vote. “But they should know that federal funds will not be available for them to use as part of their threats.
“Somebody needed to stand up and say they think this is wrong and we are not going to allow federal funding to be the carrot and stick for the city of San Francisco and its misguided policy. Federal taxpayer funding should not be used as a means, or as coercion, to force private groups and businesses to adopt policies that they find morally, philosophically or religiously objectionable.”

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  • Carol Hendrickson