.- Rather than cancel its partnerships with the District of Columbia, Catholic Charities of Washington, D.C. has announced that it will end health coverage for new employeesâ spouses in order to comply with the requirements of a new same-sex âmarriageâ law.
The D.C. City Councilâs law recognizing same-sex âmarriageâ purported to protect religious freedom. However, it required religious entities which serve the general public to provide services to homosexual couples, even if doing so violated their religious beliefs.
Catholic Charities receives $22 million from the city for social service programs, the Washington Post reports. The organization was already forced to end its eight-decade-old adoption and foster care programs because they would have been required to act according to the Districtâs redefinition of marriage.
Edward J. Orzechowski, President and CEO of Catholic Charities of Washington, D.C., stressed in a March 1 letter to staff members that current employeesâ coverage will remain the same unless they request certain revisions in benefit coverage.
âThe new plan will provide the same level of coverage for employees and their dependents that you now have, with one exception: spouses not in the plan as of March 1 will not be eligible for coverage in the future,â Orzechowski wrote.
âWe 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.â
He said that Catholic Charities has worked hard to make a decision that allows it to continue to serve others âin a manner that is consistent with our religious beliefs.â
The Washington Post reports that staff members were not given advance notice of the new policy and will not be able to add a spouse because the most recent enrollment period ended in November.
D.C. Superior Court officials have prepared to implement the redefinition of marriage by rewriting its traditional applications and brochures. Its materials no longer ask for the name of the bride and groom, but rather ask for the name of the âspouse.â
The final pronouncement of âhusband and wifeâ has also been removed as the default language. According to the Washington Post, at the end of civil marriage ceremonies judges will say "I now pronounce you legally married," unless the marrying couple suggests something different.