Catholic Charities: the benefits issue

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So the Archdiocese of Washington has gotten out of the foster care/adoption business, for which they’ve been receiving $2 million annually from the public purse. D.C.’s new same-sex marriage law requires all married couples to be treated equally, and because the Catholic church regards same-sex marriage as a crime against nature, it won’t be involved in placing and supervising children in homes where the two adults have been joined in such. In its press release, the Archdiocese says, “Same on the City for kicking a fine service provider to the curb.” No, the provider’s spiritual bosses just decided they couldn’t render unto Caesar in this case.

Washington is following the lead of Boston and San Francisco, which also folded up their foster care operations rather than treat all unions equally. But so far as I can tell, this has not happened in Connecticut–and there’s also Vermont, New Hampshire, and Iowa to look into. The reporting on this story has been woefully inadequate. When the issue is raised at all, it is simply waved away with the vague assertion that the D.C. statute is in some unspecified way more prescriptive than the law in other same-sex marriage jurisdictions.

Be that as it may, foster care is more the symbolic than the real issue. Other foster care agencies can readily take over from Catholic Charities–as is happening in Washington–while CC continues to do the rest of its social service work. The real issue is the applicability of the law to CC employees. How does it affect benefits packages provided to employees who may be in same-sex marriages?

Both WaPo’s Michelle Boorstein and the Washington Times‘s Julia Duin have taken note of this issue but not pursued it very far. The closest thing to an answer is the following, from Boorstein’s article:

Edward Orzechowski, president and chief executive of Catholic
Charities, the archdiocese’s social service arm, said the group is
optimistic that it will find a way to structure its benefits packages
in other social service programs so that it can remain in partnership
with the city without recognizing same-sex marriage.

Asked if that meant looking at ways to avoid paying benefits to
same-sex partners or ways to write benefits plans so as not to
characterize same-sex couples as “married,” Orzechowski said “both,

How does Catholic Charities operate in other same-sex marriage jurisdictions? I’ve tried to elicit answers in both Connecticut and Massachusetts but so far to no avail. Clearly, some assiduous journalism is needed. My guess is that the agencies have managed to find a way to do right by their gay employees–but softly, softly. The problem is that should they acknowledge that they are abiding by the law and “recognizing” the same-sex marriages of the people who work for them, they would have to explain why they can’t, then, also find a way to live with the same-sex marriages of would-be adoptive parents and foster caretakers.