The Washington Post reports today here Catholic Charities in D.C. has changed its policy and now will not offer benefits to any same-sex partners of employees not already getting benefits. Indeed, in order to avoid providing benefits to same-sex partners, the charity apparently will not provide benefits to any new spouse (though it will provide aid to dependents). See letter to staff here. Meanwhile, the Archdiocese of San Francisco years ago expanded the definition of domestic partner to include a parent, sibling, or anyone else in the household. No change in Church doctrine has motivated the change in policy by the D.C. charity.
It does come against the background of a battle between the Church and D.C. officials over the District’s legalization of gay marriage, and its prohibiting of discrimination against such couples. The charity had vowed to terminate its foster care services and its housing shelters if it had to accommodate same-sex couples. It did get out of the foster care business (transferring its operations to another charity), but the charity will not carry through on its threat to close its housing shelters. So housing shelters will be available to poor same-sex couples, but not health benefits to the spouses of employees.
It is not clear what the charity hopes to accomplish by its move. As Robert Tuttle of George Washington University puts it: "For decades, the church has been at the forefront of worker benefits, so this move cuts against their understanding of social justice and health benefits to all possible," Perhaps, the charity simply wants to underscore its opposition to same-sex marriage. It might have accomplished that with another press release.