Catholic group dodges gay marriage

Washington, D.C., recognizes the right of same-sex partners to wed. Don't expect Catholic Charities to do the same

By Mary Elizabeth Williams
March 4, 2010 3:04AM (UTC)
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Jubilant newlyweds lined up at courthouses today as D.C.'s new marriage law went into effect, but not everyone is breaking out the kazoos. Catholic Charities of Washington, D.C., the largest private social service in the area, has figured out a clever way to make sure the gays don't get their hands on the precious health insurance God never intended them to have. On Monday, the organization informed its employees that henceforth, new hires and yet unwed employees would not be entitled to spousal health benefits. In the memo, Catholic Charities president and CEO Edward Orzechowski explained that, "As of March 2 ... the new plan will provide the same level of coverage for employees and their dependents that you now have, with one exception: spouses not in the plan as of March 1, will not be eligible for coverage in the future ... We sincerely regret that we have to make this change, but it is necessary to allow Catholic Charities to continue to provide essential services to the clients we serve in partnership with the District of Columbia while remaining consistent with the tenets of our religious faith."

That's right; so determined is Catholic Charities not to give a dime to gay spouses, they're willing to cut off straight ones while they're at it. This, by the way, is the same organization that last month dumped its foster care service rather than risk having its kids go into homes with same-sex couples.


Speaking on the amended health benefits plan,  D.C. Archbishop Sonald W. Wuerl told the Washington Post this week that "The Catholic Church teaches to pay a just wage. The compensation package you use to pay that just wage isn't defined by the church." What the Church deemed just, however, was until last week a package that provided for husbands and wives.

Catholic Charities of Massachusetts, where same-sex unions are permitted, continues to cover spouses.

Mary Elizabeth Williams

Mary Elizabeth Williams is a staff writer for Salon and author of "A Series of Catastrophes & Miracles."

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