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Michigan Catholic Conference offering health benefits to employees with same-sex partners

Christ the King Catholic Church in Ann Arbor Michigan
Dwight Burdette
Creative Commons

The Michigan Catholic Conference is expanding who employees can add to their health plan, now including same-sex partners.

A letter from the Michigan Catholic Conference earlier this month informed employees that they can now add one "Legally Domiciled Adult" to their health benefits, including medical and dental plans. 

The MCC is the benefits provider for church employees and clergy.

The letter said adding LDAs "allows for the MCC health plan to be both legally compliant and consistent with church teaching." 

Legally Domiciled Adult is defined as anyone over 18 who has lived for at least six months with an MCC employee, along with a few other requirements. 

Dave Maluchnik, Director of Communications for the Michigan Catholic Conference, said people shouldn't interpret the change as having to do with same-sex marriage, or indicating any change in church policy. He said the policy change simply brings the MCC into compliance with federal law. 

"Let me be clear: the church's teaching on marriage is not changing. The church, obviously, very strongly believes that marriage is between one man and one woman," he said. "As far as this benefit goes, this is going to be residency based."

Still, Stephanie White, Executive Director of Equality Michigan, called this a "win" for the LGBTQ community and the state of Michigan. She said any steps toward legal equality are a victory.

"It's good to see that even resistant organizations and employers can find a way to comply with the law," she said. 

She also noted that this has less to do with religion and more to do with equality. 

"Our organization doesn't have an interest in making the Catholic Church change their core beliefs, but we think that everybody who operates in the public sector, and that includes hiring employees, should treat everybody equally," White said. "So, from my perspective, this is a win." 

For White and other LGBTQ activists, the ultimate goal would be to update Michigan's Elliot-Larsen Civil Rights Act to include protections for people of any gender-identity or sexual orientation.