Missouri employees may be interested to learn of a neighboring state’s Jesuit university’s decision to start providing healthcare benefits to spouses of their gay employees.

Creighton University in Omaha, Nebraska, will begin to recognize the marriages of gay couples in states where such marriages are legal, paving the way for their spouses to become eligible for health plan benefits at the Catholic university.

Omaha’s Archbishop is not one of the clergy who is embracing the new development. He released a statement last month that read, in part, “I am dismayed that the recommendation of the University Benefits Committee is thought to supersede divine law regarding marriage.”

This decision is likely to draw the ire of conservative clergy and parishioners alike, even though the university is not the first Catholic institution of higher learning to offer benefits to spouses of employees in same-sex marriages. With the addition of Creighton University, a total of 22 Jesuit universities offer the same.

One of those is the University of Notre Dame in Indiana. Last month, it also made the announcement that benefits will be available to same-sex spouses of university employees. Unlike Nebraska, which bars same-sex marriage under a constitutional amendment, Indiana is one of the 32 states that have legalized same-sex marriages.

The Jesuit priest who is president of Creighton University said discussions about the policy change were initiated last year after Pope Francis, another Jesuit, made welcoming remarks and gestures aimed at the homosexual community in an attempt to make the Catholic Church more inclusive.

It’s possible that more Catholic universities, possibly including some in Missouri, will be making policy changes similar to their Jesuit counterparts in other states. Workers affected by any failure on the part of the universities to provide benefits may wish to consult with an employee law attorney to learn about their legal options.

Source: Huffington Post, “Bishops Object As Catholic Universities Offer Benefits To Same-Sex Spouses” David Gibson, Nov. 02, 2014