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Fallout in DC
|Wed, 03-03-2010 - 2:58pm|
"Same-sex marriage leads Catholic Charities to adjust benefits
By William Wan Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, March 2, 2010
Employees at Catholic Charities were told Monday that the social services organization is changing its health coverage to avoid offering benefits to same-sex partners of its workers -- the latest fallout from a bitter debate between District officials trying to legalize same-sex marriage and the Catholic Archdiocese of Washington.
Starting Tuesday, Catholic Charities will not offer benefits to spouses of new employees or to spouses of current employees who are not already enrolled in the plan. A letter describing the change in health benefits was e-mailed to employees Monday, two days before same-sex marriage will become legal in the District.
"We looked at all the options and implications," said the charity's president, Edward J. Orzechowski. "This allows us to continue providing services, comply with the city's new requirements and remain faithful to the church's teaching."
Catholic Charities, which receives $22 million from the city for social service programs, protested in the run-up to the council's December vote to allow same-sex marriage, saying that it might not be able to continue its contracts with the city , including operating homeless shelters and facilitating city-sponsored adoptions. Being forced to recognize same-sex marriage, church officials said, could make it impossible for the church to be a city contractor because Catholic teaching opposes such unions.
After the council voted to legalize gay marriage , Catholic Charities last month transferred its foster-care program -- 43 children, 35 families and seven staff members -- to another provider, the National Center for Children and Families.
Orzechowski said Monday that the change in health benefits will be the last move necessary in response to the legislation.
"We do not anticipate any further changes whatsoever," he said. "Taking the action we have on foster care and spousal we feel has addressed everything the new law requires of us."
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