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Catholic Charities Ends Spousal Benefits

Jim Burroway

March 2nd, 2010

In a bid to avoid inadvertently providing spousal benefits to gay men and women who happen to be employees, Catholic Charities of Washington, D.C. , has taken the extraordinary step of ending spousal benefits for all of its employees, the Washington City Paper reports.

Catholic Charities President and CEO Edward Orzechowski sent a memo out to employees yesterday informing them that spouses’ who have already been enrolled in the health plan would continue to receive care under a grandfather clause, but that new employees or newly married employees would no longer be eligible to obtain coverage for their spouses through Catholic Charities.

The change goes into effect today. The District of Columbia will begin granting marriage licenses to same-sex couples beginning on March 4.

According to the Washington Post, Catholic Charities employs 850 people in the District and five surrounding Maryland and Virginia counties, but fewer than 100 use the spousal benefits option.



March 2nd, 2010 | LINK

Catholic Charities doesn’t seem very charitable – to put it lightly. The good thing about having enemies like this is that they kill themselves slowly. This generation of Catholics might manage to do what the crusaders couldn’t do…make the Catholic church entirely unthinkable for a person with a conscience.

March 2nd, 2010 | LINK

It strikes me that these guys are almost setting themselves up on purpose for the religious right to use them as an example of what harm will come from same sex marriage.

I can see it now–gay marriage in DC forced Catholic charities to stop their adoption work and stop giving benefits to spouses. I’m sure they’ll find a way to spin it.

March 2nd, 2010 | LINK

**Bearchewtoy75 gazes into his Crystal Ball**

I can hear them now, saying “Look at what you’re making us do!”

Their supporters will whine about how THEIR rights are being violated.

Our side will argue that no one is forcing them to give their employee benefits and if they or any other church operates as a business, they have to play by the rules that any other business does.


I find it shocking to think that rather than to POTENTIALLY give benefits to a few same-sex couples (which, BTW, how many would really WANT to work for the Catholic Charities?), they go this route.

These people have no business calling themselves Christian, but as we all know history, this is hardly the worst thing the Catholic Church has ever done. I guess we should just be happy that they’re not torturing or killing people into not giving their employees benefits!

March 2nd, 2010 | LINK

I want to see someone try to spin discontinuing spousal benefits as being “pro-family.”

March 2nd, 2010 | LINK

This is going to make them really attractive in the employment market, no?

March 2nd, 2010 | LINK

i say sell the vatican and give to the poor. we all know that will never happen! Seperation of church and state now…get out of our bedrooms and pay more attention to you own.

Timothy Kincaid
March 2nd, 2010 | LINK

Even assuming the dogma of the Church is completely true and without error… which is the greater tragedy:

providing recognition to an intrinsically evil sexual union


denying care to the sick

Which would the Jesus of Matthew 25 find to be worse?

Ben in Oakland
March 2nd, 2010 | LINK

Steve– you should read a book called Hadrian the Seventh. that’s what Hadrian did, and was murdered for his daring. Unfortunately, for him, it wasn’t the Church that did it.

Paul in Canada
March 2nd, 2010 | LINK

Well said, Timothy!

Send a Smile
March 2nd, 2010 | LINK

Well, as the Bible clearly states, “Thou shall not give a man who lieth with another man a dental plan and vision coverage!”

Fred in the UK
March 2nd, 2010 | LINK

I just imagine a devout Catholic woman, who has chosen to work for Catholic Charities because of the Catholic ideals of helping the poor and the destitute. She is also mindful that a Catholic marriage is for life and one marries in haste to repent at leisure, but now, finally, she has found a good man who she loves dearly and will make a good husband. She is about to enter into the institution of marriage, and her Catholic employer will now refuse to recognise her good Catholic marriage just for the sake of spiting, at most a handful of, gays by denying them health insurance benefits. Its that woman we should feel sorry for, its her that Catholic Charities is prepared to walk all over, just for the sake of not recognising gay marriage.

March 2nd, 2010 | LINK

I wonder if this is a ploy the Vatican is using to get more straight people even more angry at gays.

In this way, the Vatican can say “We’re only doing this because of the gay people.”

Eric in Oakland
March 2nd, 2010 | LINK

Sadly enough, this is a very “pro-family” policy. After all, everyone knows that “pro-family” is just fundy-speak for “anti-gay”.

March 2nd, 2010 | LINK

“Grandfathering” those benefits could very well be illegal, just as grandfathering the voting rights of whites (while raising the bar to exclude blacks) was unconstitutional. I’m no expert, though.

March 2nd, 2010 | LINK

“I find it shocking to think that rather than to POTENTIALLY give benefits to a few same-sex couples (which, BTW, how many would really WANT to work for the Catholic Charities?), they go this route.”

I’ve had a number of non-Catholic friends, some of them queer, who’ve worked for various Catholic Charities organizations. The Church itself is run by asshats, but CC’s charitable work is generally performed without any imposed religious content or point of view.

Someone on Joemygod pointed out that it’s almost certain to be the case that some of those 100 people currently receiving spousal benefits are on their second or third spouse. Unless they got their earlier marriages annulled, the Catholic Church considers their current marriages to be just as sinful as any same-sex pairing. Yet they’ve never had a problem providing health care in the case of those sinful relationships.

Richard W. Fitch
March 2nd, 2010 | LINK

@Jon: Well, at least those umpteenth marriages are between ‘a man and a woman’.
@Donnchadh: I believe that it is legal to continue spouse benefits under the new policy for those previously enrolled on the same basis that CA SSM were not invalidated. RE: voting rights, that played out on an entirely different field.

March 2nd, 2010 | LINK

And now the rest of us taxpayers get to pay the hospital bills for the spouses/partners/children of new employees. Isn’t that convenient? The Catholic Church gets to save a pile of money while pretending to be martyrs.

March 2nd, 2010 | LINK

This news item just cross my desk.

This is not directly related to this article, but it is Catholic related.

Best quote from the article:

The man at the centre of the row has said he just wants equal treatment – if he is regarded as a sinner, he wants the priest to refuse communion to all other sinners too.

Netherlands gay protest over Catholic communion snub

Richard W. Fitch
March 2nd, 2010 | LINK

Eddie89 – and in this instance, he did. The Mass was aborted……..wait RCC does like that term, so computerese, it experienced an ABEND(abnormal end).

Richard W. Fitch
March 2nd, 2010 | LINK

^^doesn’t like^^

Tim Hulsey
March 2nd, 2010 | LINK

@ Ben in Oakland: Ummm … you are aware that HADRIAN THE SEVENTH is a work of fiction, are you not?

kevin K
March 2nd, 2010 | LINK

So when are all the gay priests going to lose their health coverage?

And does this mean the Pope has to buy his own insurance?

March 2nd, 2010 | LINK

This policy change is for Catholic Charities in the DC area only. In San Francisco, they actually figured out a win-win solution years ago after the City of SF mandated that all city contractors offer equal spousal benefits. Catholic Charities SF changed their benefits policy to remove any mention of spouses, and offer benefits to another adult member of the employee’s household (and their kids). Wonder why DC couldn’t do likewise and had to pull this juvenile stunt instead…?

Ben in Oakland
March 4th, 2010 | LINK

I am indeed, and a truly great one.

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