The Catholic Archdiocese of Washington said Wednesday it's prepared walk away from providing thousands of people with social services over a gay marriage bill nearing final approval by the D.C. City Council, the Washington Post reported.

On Tuesday, the district's Committee on Public Safety & Judiciary voted in favor of Council member David Catania's gay marriage bill. The committee tweaked the bill's language, removing a provision that would have ended domestic partnerships in the district in 2010. Under the bill, religious organizations would not be required to perform gay weddings, but the committee voted down a proposed amendment that would have allowed individuals, including private business owners, to refuse to provide goods and services related to the nuptials of gay couples.

The exemption was introduced by Council member Yvette Alexander, who argued that it would protect individuals who oppose gay marriage on religious grounds.

“The intent is to protect against liability for people who say [gay marriage] is against their religious beliefs,” she told gay weekly Washington Blade.

“There are really some individuals where everything is guided strongly by their religious beliefs. And I think this would just put an imposition on them,” she added.

Committee members disagreed and killed the amendment with a 4-to-1 vote. Only Alexander voted in favor of her amendment.

On Wednesday, the Archdiocese released a statement threatening to pull its support of all social services in the city unless lawmakers approved the amendment or made other accommodations.

“If the city requires this, we can't do it,” Susan Gibbs, spokeswoman for the archdiocese, told the Post. “The city is saying in order to provide social services, you need to be secular. For us, that's really a problem.”

The church currently serves approximately 68,000 people with adoption, homelessness and health care. Catholic Charities, the church's social services arm, contracts with the city to manage nearly a third of its homeless shelters.

Gay activists accused the church of trying to “blackmail the city.”

“The issue here is they are using public funds, and to allow people to discriminate with public money is unacceptable,” Peter Rosenstein, president of the Campaign for All D.C. Families, told the paper.

Roman Catholics are quickly catching up to other denominations that have traditionally opposed gay rights, most notably Evangelical Christians and the Mormon Church. Catholic groups poured millions of dollars to anti-gay marriage referendum campaigns in California and Maine. Pope Benedict frequently speaks out against giving gay men and lesbians the right to marry; often in Spain, where such unions are legal.

Barring intervention by Congress, which has final say in the city's laws, the bill is widely expected to win final approval during a December 1 City Council meeting.