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The Archdiocese of Washington has been battling the D.C. government for the right to discriminate against gays and lesbians since D.C.’s same-sex marriage legislation got rolling last year.
One major point of contention: Once gays and lesbians are allowed to marry, the Archdiocese—-which employs plenty of locals through Catholic Charities—-will be required to provide health benefits to same-sex spouses, an act which it says would fly in the face of the Catholic church’s teachings on homosexuality.
The solution? No spousal benefits for anybody.
Today, Catholic Charities President and CEO Edward Orzechowski sent out a memo to staffers informing them of the change to the health care coverage, which will go into effect tomorrow.
In short: If you and your spouse are already enrolled in Catholic Charities health coverage, your spouse will be grandfathered in. Starting tomorrow, however, new employees (or newly married employees, hint hint) will not be allowed to add spouses to the plan. So: Longtime employees will receive the spousal benefits they’ve always had; Catholic Charities will get to keep its pool of covered spouses gay-free; only fresh employees and gays will feel the sting on this one.
Here’s the memo:
I am writing to you to inform you of an important change to our group health care benefit plan that will take effect on March 2, 2010 due to a change in the law of the District of Columbia. It is important to note that the existing health coverage of current employees will not be affected by the change. New employees and current employees requesting revisions in benefit coverage will be affected by this change.
Catholic Charities will continue to honor the health plan coverage that current employees have as of March 1, 2010. As of March 2, a new plan will be in effect that will cover new employees and requests for benefit changes by current employees. 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. If your spouse currently has coverage in our Plan, he/she may continue to be covered by the health benefit plan, even if you later add a dependent or decide to change your option level (e.g., change from low option to high option). Please see the attached formal Plan Amendment.
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.
A summary of the Plan modification has been mailed to you at your home address. If you have any questions on this matter, please e-mail your Human Resources manager or, if you do not have access to email, call. Please remember, this change does not impact your current coverage in any way.
Thank you for your understanding in this matter, and let me again express my appreciation for your support and patience over these past months as we have worked hard to arrive at a decision that allows us to continue to serve others in a manner that is consistent with our religious beliefs.
Photo by Darrow Montgomery