The Catholic Church in Michigan has announced that it will allow health benefits to gay people for their partners or spouses.
The Michigan Catholic Conference this week sent a begrudging letter to pastors and employees.
In it, the Church said it was changing its health coverage to include legally domiciled adults.
The letter said those over 18, and who have cohabited with a Church employee for six months or more, as well as being financially interdependent, will qualify for the health benefits.
This includes cohabiting, or married same-sex couples.
The health care coverage will be offered to any couple who meets the criteria, regardless of sexual orientation.
Changes were made by the Church in compliance with the federal law which now allows same-sex marriage.
The letter does not use the words ‘gay’ or ‘same-sex relationship’, but it does specify that any consenting adults meeting those criteria qualify for the benefits.
But the Conference said in the letter that it would not look into the situations of people who apply for the health benefits.
“Due to recent changes in federal law regarding the provision of health benefits, Michigan Catholic Conference has adopted a modification to MCC benefits to ensure compliance with applicable laws and regulations. The inclusion of the LDA (Legally Domiciled Adults) benefit allows for the MCC health plan to be both legally compliant and consistent with church teaching,” the letter reads.
Under previous rules, and as per the teachings of the Catholic Church, same-sex married couples would not have qualified for health benefits.
Dave Maluchnik, the comms director for the Michigan Catholic Conference said: “It complies with federal law, as it is, in 2016… This is the world in which we now live.”
However he did clarify that “the Church’s teaching on marriage and human sexuality is not changing.”
While the move was celebrated by some LGBT rights activists, others said the decision does not go far enough.
Some said they would prefer for the Church to explicitly acknowledge and accept same-sex relationships.