Nonprofit Newswire | Ex Catholic Charities Exec Not Happy

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March 5, 2010; Washington Post | Continuing coverage of the Catholic Charities decision to deny spousal benefits for new employees in its DC operations is not a matter of picking on the agency, but identifying a particularly reprehensible action that nonprofits ought to say something about. Catholic Charities took this action in order to avoid violating D.C.’s new same-sex marriage law but still keep its 8-figures worth of local service funding. In Friday’s Washington Post, the former COO at Catholic Charities in D.C. called the denial of health benefits for employees’ spouses “devastating” and “wrong.” The former COO said, “Providing health care to a gay or lesbian partner—a basic human right, according to Church teaching—is an end in itself and no more legitimizes that marriage than giving communion to a divorced person legitimizes divorce, or giving food or shelter to an alcoholic legitimizes alcoholism.” Most current Catholic Charities staff did not return press calls or declined to speak for the record because of fears of being fired, though some anonymously said that people were really upset. The president of Catholic Charities told the press, “The only issue here was to treat all spouses the same and that’s why we made the change.” But an alternative paper in San Francisco described the CC and Archdiocese decision as bigotry, responding to the CEO’s statement, saying, “it was not to treat all spouses the same, it was to avoid treating queer couples the same as straight ones.” The former Catholic Charities COO said the “goodwill and name [of Catholic Charities] are being squandered” by this decision, causing the agency to lose respect in the D.C. community. But the silence from the D.C. nonprofit community, its leadership long connected to Catholic Charities, is stunning.—Rick Cohen