D.C. City Council asks Church to adopt GU medical coverage policy
At right, David Catania
As things stand, the Catholic Archdiocese of Washington, D.C. says it will have no choice but to abandon its contracts with the City if the December 1 vote on the D.C. City Council’s proposed same-sex marriage law is successful.
The pulled contracts would have substantial consequences in D.C., as diocese-run “Catholic Charities,” currently serves 68,000 District residents and spends $10,000,000 on social services in the city annually in the District, and so City Council members are hurriedly seeking a compromise that will keep Catholic Charities in the City.
On Wednesday, Councilmembers Phil Mendelson (D-At Large) and David A. Catina (I-At Large) (SFS ‘90, LAW ‘94), the Georgetown graduate who introduced the bill, sent a letter to the Washington Archbishop Donald Wuerl asking the Church to adopt a policy like the one in effect at Georgetown that allows the University to provide medical coverage the same-sex partners of employees without recognizing their union.
The New York Times editorial board seconds the idea (which City Paper columnist and Voice alum Mike DeBonis wryly notes is probably “the first time a D.C. Council committee report has been quoted in the Gray Lady”).
Susan Gibbs, the spokesperson for the Archdiocese, has not responded to a request for comment, but she has told the Catholic News Agency and the Washington Post that she is “not confident” and “not sure the proposal alleviates the Church’s concerns.”
An explanation of Georgetown’s policy, after the jump
Georgetown University’s medical benefits policy has allowed for coverage of same-sex partners since 2006, when it expanded its policy to include a new class of individuals, “legally domiciled adults.” (The Voice covers its evolution extensively here). In an e-mail, Georgetown University Spokesperson Julie Green Bataille wrote,
Benefits-eligible faculty and staff have the option to purchase coverage for themselves and either a spouse or one LDA. The LDA must be either someone with whom the person has a close personal relationship and is financially interdependent, or a dependent blood relative such as an elderly parent or grown child. In both cases, employees must live with the individual and he/she must not otherwise have access to group health care coverage.
Bataille did not reference same-sex couples in her e-mail. “We reviewed many issues in formulating this policy and believe that it expanded current offerings in a way that increases access to quality health care benefits to more members of the Georgetown University community in keeping with our commitment as a Catholic, Jesuit University to respond to the human needs of others,” she wrote.