Catholic Charities, the social services arm of the Archdiocese of Washington, has ended its foster care program rather than serve gay couples.

The church said an impeding DC gay marriage law expected to take effect March 3 made it “ineligible” to serve as a foster care provider.

“We regret that our efforts to avoid this outcome were not successful,” Ed Orzechowski, president and CEO of Catholic Charities, said in a statement. “The difference each staff member and foster care parent makes for a child in need of a loving home is immeasurable.”

The 80-year-old program, including its 7 staffers, will be transferred to DC's Child and Family Services Agency (CFSA), the church said.

Earlier, the church had threatened to walk away from providing thousands of people in the District with social services if lawmakers approved the gay marriage bill, including feeding the poor and sheltering the homeless. But the church said Tuesday that it anticipates only the foster care program will be impacted by the new law.

Several Republican lawmakers – led by Utah Representative Jason Chaffetz and Senator Bob Bennett – sponsored a resolution to block the law from taking effect, but Democratic leaders have kept the bill from advancing.

An effort to place on the ballot an initiative that would ban gay marriage in the District has been ruled out by both the city's Board of Elections and Ethics and the District's Superior Court. The board ruled – and the court agreed – that such a measure would violate the city's Human Right Act (HRA) that prohibits discrimination based on sexual orientation. Opponents have said they plan to appeal the decision.