Tuesday, March 2, 2010

How Charitable Is That?

It’s either a lesson in irony or just plain bigotry, but the Catholic Charities in Washington, D.C. is changing its healthcare benefits to exclude the possibility that one of their employees might want to cover a same-sex partner now that the District legalized marriage equality.

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.”

As the article notes, Catholic Charities is a private, non-profit organization, so they can do whatever they want when it comes to providing benefits to their employees. And they are free to pass along the impression that they’re also a bunch of bigoted and sex-obsessed tight-asses who actually go out of their way to ostracize legally-recognized married couples. How charitable of them.