PENSION AND HEALTH BENEFITS FOR SAME-GENDER SPOUSES
For some years, annual conferences have been paying benefits for same-gender spouses and many have been challenged to the Judicial Council as violations of the Discipline’s provision about supporting agencies promoting homosexuality.
In decisions noted by their numbers in JCD 1264, the Council has been consistent, saying that the conference councils on finance and administration do not by Discipline promote homosexuality. Further, they note that Paragraph 807.12 of the Discipline disallows violation of the Social Principles which call for equal treatment of all employees, including homosexuals.
These same arguments are used in this decision to resolve a similar challenge of the General Council on Finance and Administration’s paying benefits to their gay employees’ spouses.
The Council further argues that each of the respective finance and administration groups also have the task of enforcing the rule against money going to groups promoting homosexuality and none had so far found against themselves. I’m sure someone will raise the issue of conflict of interest because the agencies are policing themselves. Even if legislation passes in 2016 putting the enforcement role into an independent body, the other two arguments of the Council would stand.
There is a caveat in Paragraph 807.12 that would allow a conference council on finance and administration to choose not to provide benefits for same-gender spouses because it could depend on “local employment conditions.” I have no information to support my opinion that many conferences, because of local conditions that mitigate against benefits for same-gender spouses, do not provide them now. Even if that is the case, as civil courts overturn such policies in the communities around the country, annual conferences will eventually provide the benefits.