But the Michigan church says it is not going against Catholic doctrine opposing gay marriage.
The church will simply extend benefits to the legal domestic partner of any employee if that person is over 18, financially interdependent with the employee and has lived with them for six months or more. That partner could be a friend, cousin, sibling or parent as well as a lover or spouse, the church noted, adding that calling the new policy a concession to gay couples was a “narrow reading.”
Nonetheless, Michigan LGBTQ advocates were pleased. “The Catholic Church prides itself on being about families, so it’s good to see them taking a step that will actually protect families,” said Stephanie White, executive director of Equality Michigan.
She added that the change was important in Michigan, which lacks a state law protecting LGBTQ people from discrimination. “The policy also shows that even groups and businesses that are resistant to basic non-discrimination protections can find a way to follow the law and treat everyone equally,” she said.
A Michigan church spokesperson said that the decision was meant to comply with both new federal law that recognizes same-sex marriages and with church doctrine opposing gay marriage.
“This is the world in which we now live,” he said.