Partners of LGBT Church Workers in Michigan May Receive Healthcare Benefits

mi-catholic

Catholic Church officials in Michigan may extend healthcare benefits to people living with church employees, including  same-gender  partners, through a new policy announced last week,, according to the Detroit Free Press:

“In a letter sent this week to pastors and employees of the Catholic Church in Michigan, the Michigan Catholic Conference (MCC) said it is modifying its health care coverage to include legally domiciled adults (LDA), meaning those who are above 18, have lived with the employee for at least six months and are financially interdependent with the employee.”

An MCC official clarified that the benefit would be granted without consideration of the recipient adult’s gender or relationship to the church worker. The Free Press reported:

“The Michigan Catholic Conference indicated that it will not investigate the sexual activities or behaviors of those applying for the new LDA coverage to find out whether  someone is in a same-sex relationship.”

This change in policy allows the church’s healthcare offerings in the state “to be both legally compliant and consistent with Church teaching,” according to the notification letter. Other options towards compliance would have involved reducing health coverage for church workers. MCC Communications Director Dave Maluchnik added that even though the bishops’ teaching on marriage remains the same, the new policy is a reflection of changing circumstances because “This is the world in which we now live.”

Allowing LGBT church workers’ partners and families to receive health insurance is being applauded by LGBT advocates, but not without hesitation. Francis DeBernardo, executive director of New Ways Ministry, told the Free Press:

” ‘This is a good step forward. . .It’s not ideal. . .I wish the Catholic Church would recognize they could do this by explicitly supporting same-sex couples.’ “

DeBernardo also had a historical reminder that the Archdiocese of San Francisco adopted a similar benefit for legally domiciled adults back in 1997 “after the city threatened to stop its contracts with them for social services over not including gay partners in their employee health care coverage.”

Equality Michigan’s director Stephanie White told the Detroit News this was progress, whether or not Michigan church officials concede that it is or not:

” ‘It’s really good news. . .It shows how important federal action is in saying discrimination is wrong and that people should be treated fairly. It’s a win-win.’ “

At the very least, this proposal is  an improved response to the question of church workers in same-gender partnerships–and, increasingly, marriages–more than 60 of whom have lost their jobs in LGBT-related disputes since 2008.

–Bob Shine, New Ways Ministry

 

 

2 Responses to Partners of LGBT Church Workers in Michigan May Receive Healthcare Benefits

  1. Bishop Carlos Florido, osf says:

    The right move!

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