In his letter asking the board of Catholic Charities in Washington to reconsider the archdiocese’s new policy withdrawing health coverage from spouses, former chief operating officer Tim Sawina mentions that Georgetown University “found a better way.” Here’s the Georgetown policy:
Spouse/Legally Domiciled Adult (LDA)
For medical, dental and vision coverage only, instead of covering
a spouse, you may cover another qualified adult member of your
household. A qualified adult member of your household is a LDA if
he/she is an individual over age 18 who has for at least 6 months lived
in the same principal residence as you, remains a member of your
household throughout the coverage period, and who:
-EITHER has a close personal relationship with you (not a casual
roommate or tenant), shares basic living expenses and is financially
interdependent with you, is neither legally married to anyone else nor
legally related to you by blood in any way that would prohibit
marriage, and is neither receiving benefits from an employer nor
eligible for any group coverage.
-OR your blood relative who meets the definition of your tax dependent
as defined by Section 152 of the Internal Revenue Code during the
coverage period and is neither receiving benefits from an employer nor
eligible for any other group coverage.
By allowing employees to designate one other qualified adult living in their household for coverage, Georgetown can avoid recognizing same-sex marriage while providing coverage to those who are legally recognized as spouses under D.C. law. What the Archdiocese of Washington needs to explain is why, in order to be able to provide the health coverage the church recognizes as a basic human right, such an approach is unacceptable.
P.S. I’m willing to bet a nickel that archdioceses in other same-sex marriage jurisdictions have quietly taken the Georgetown approach, which seems to have been pioneered in San Francisco.
Reconsideration: It’s been suggested to me that the Georgetown language covering non-spousal LDAs (same-sex or otherwise) would, under the new D.C. law, not be necessary to cover same-sex spouses. Which leads me to wonder whether the university, in order not to seem to be recognizing same-sex marriage, will feel obliged to adjust its language in some way–perhaps by removing references to spouses altogether.