Sour Grapes (or, Married Without Benefits)

March 3rd, 2010

Inspired by Catholic Charities to limit health benefits to spouses (Washington Post 3/02/10), Catholic Charities Drops Same-Sex Spouses From Benefits (Huffington Post 3/02/10), To fight same-sex marriage, DC’s Catholic Diocese cuts benefits for its employees (Gay.Americablog 3/02/10), What a Difference a Day Makes (in DC for Same Sex Marriage, Charity Employee Benefits, and the Catholic Church) (The Democrat Deal 3/02/10), and D.C. archbishop defends Catholic Charities’ stand on health benefits (Washington Post 3/03/10).

“Catholic Charities is a private, nonprofit corporation. They can choose to provide benefits to families and spouses or not. I hope that it’s not just a runaround to keep from doing things they should do, but it’s within their purview to decide what to offer their employees.” — DC Council member and marriage equality supporter Tommy Wells

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. — Edward Orzechowski, Catholic Charities President & CEO

DC is going gay

And Catholic Charities doesn’t want to play.

Ed, I wrote you and Archbishop Wuerl before,

And now I’ll address you once more.

You didn’t heed my advice about your foster care service,

Which to close you continue to insist.

I’m glad you didn’t follow through

With earlier threats likewise to other programs to do.

I’m sorry you had to hurt your employees to do it,

But I don’t think that’s all there is to it.

It’s a clever trick you pulled to be technically compliant

With the new DC law of which you are defiant.

You can’t discriminate against gay couples in your benefit provision,

So you came up with a benefit package revision.

Now no new hires will get spousal insurance,

Which discrimination against gays nominally prevents.

That’s technically legal, but functionally discriminatory

(An obvious attempt to keep gay couples in Purgatory).

I don’t get how gay marriage differs from other marriages you don’t recognize,

Since divorced people who remarry aren’t married in the Church’s eyes.

You provided spousal insurance to them without protest.

What is it about gay marriage that made you so distressed?

If this was just protecting traditional Catholic marriage,

Which both gays and divorcees equally disparage,

Then the similar nature of those infractions

Should have brought similar reactions.

Instead, gay couples have you doing back flips to avoid them,

While divorced and remarried couples got insurance if you employed them.

When you compare,

It doesn’t seem fair.

Of the 850 current employees working for you today,

Some of them are almost certainly gay–

Unless, of course, you discriminated against gays in hiring,

Or found some pretense for their firing.

But assuming that isn’t the case,

Eventually you may still have to face

The question of gay couples’ dependents:

If gay employees adopt, will you deny their kids insurance?

If the kids are legally adopted,

How can you cover them without being “co-opted”?

If that happens, your “runaround”

Will have run aground.

If and when that happens, you can either rationalize,

Or your insurance program yet again revise.

But then you’ll have to exclude all new kids,

Which the Church’s “be fruitful” rule forbids.

The reason I point this inconsistency out

Is to show that when you take a deceptive route,

The resulting hypocrisy will indict you,

And the deception will come back and bite you.

The Blood of Christ was shed for me and you,

But also for gays and gay couples too.

Jesus never turned anyone away,

Not even those who were gay.

Jesus gave his blood for all,

So regardless of what you your bigoted policy call,

It still contradicts the teachings of the Savior,

And your sour grapes give His wine a bad flavor.

And by the way, Ed, you can rest assured

That you’ve just added to the ranks of the uninsured.


Here’s the Letter from Catholic Charities president and CEO to staff:

Monday, March 1, 2010; 6:44 PM

Dear Staff,

I am writing to you to inform you of an important change to our group health care benefit plan that will take effect on March 2, 2010 due to a change in the law of the District of Columbia. It is important to note that the existing health coverage of current employees will not be affected by the change. New employees and current employees requesting revisions in benefit coverage will be affected by this change.

Catholic Charities will continue to honor the health plan coverage that current employees have as of March 1, 2010. As of March 2, a new plan will be in effect that will cover new employees and requests for benefit changes by current employees. The 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. If your spouse currently has coverage in our Plan, he/she may continue to be covered by the health benefit plan, even if you later add a dependent or decide to change your option level (e.g., change from low option to high option).

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.

A summary of the Plan modification has been mailed to you at your home address. If you have any questions on this matter, please e-mail your Human Resources manager or, if you do not have access to email, call. Please remember, this change does not impact your current coverage in any way.

Thank you for your understanding in this matter, and let me again express my appreciation for your support and patience over these past months as we have worked hard to arrive at a decision that allows us to continue to serve others in a manner that is consistent with our religious beliefs.

Edward J. Orzechowski

President & CEO

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One Response to “Sour Grapes (or, Married Without Benefits)”

  1. Newsericks » Blog Archive » Charity Begins at Home Says:

    […] As reported by Catholic Charities adds hiring stipulation (Washington Post 3/13/10), Catholic Charities of Washington (CCDC) is now requiring new employees to sign a document stating that they will not “violate the principles or tenets of the church.” For further background, read Catholic Charities’ health-plan change called ‘devastating’ (Washington Post 3/05/10), and our earlier posts Gays in the Church, The Threat to Marriage, Dear Archbishop Wuerl, Render Unto Caesar, Gay Pets, Suffer Little Children, The Blood of Christ (Not) Shed for You, and Sour Grapes. […]

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