Wednesday, March 03, 2010

D.C. Catholic Charities Ends New Spousal Benefits To Avoid Recognizing Same-Sex Partners

Following up on their pledge to be in compliance with D.C. same-sex marriage law that takes effect today, Catholic Charities of Washington has stopped offering benefits to spouses of new employees. This avoids charges that the organization is illegally discriminating on the basis of marital status were it to refuse to recognize same-sex partners. CNS and Beliefnet report that the change will not affect employees whose spouses are currently covered. A letter to Catholic Charities employees from its CEO said: "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." While Catholic Charities CEO Edward J. Orzechowski says that the new D.C. statute requires that same-sex couples receive the same spousal benefits as heterosexual couples, in fact that requirement seems to stem from the anti-discrimination provisions of the D.C. Human Rights Law that prohibits employment discrimination based on sexual orientation or marital status.