Social services organization Catholic Charities informed its Washington D.C. employees on Monday that spouses of new employees would not be covered under its new health plan. This is seen largely as a way for the group to avoid extending benefits to the same-sex spouses of employees. The D.C. Council recognized the right-to-marry of gay couples last year, and the law goes into effect on Wednesday.
The plan will not eliminate the benefits of partners who are already enrolled in health plans, but would disallow new enrollments.
According to the Washington Post, Catholic Charities protested the December vote that made same-sex marriage legal in D.C., and has threatened not to renew its contracts with the city. The nation's capital provides $22 million every year to Catholic Charities for social services programs.
Catholic Charities believes this move will allow it to continue to work with the city while not recognizing same-sex couples itself.
"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."
While the new policy may be making headlines, it's unlikely to affect a significant number of families. Catholic Charities has 850 employees, with under 100 taking advantage of the option to cover spouses.
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