Trustees of the ELCA Board of Pensions, meeting in Minneapolis in late February, approved steps to extend benefits to partners in same-gender relationships.
The action is subject to review of the ELCA Conference of Bishops, which met March 5-9 after presstime, and approval by the ELCA Church Council, which meets in Chicago April 9-11.
Recommended amendments would allow same-gender partners to receive medical and dental, retirement, survivor and disability benefits plans. It also includes the flexible spending plan that allows members to set aside pre-tax dollars to pay for eligible health care and dependent care expenses through the year.
The trustees' action follows the 2009 Churchwide Assembly's decisions on sexuality that opened the door to partnered gay and lesbian clergy ("Sexuality issue causes division, sadness — and hope"). In the social statement on sexuality that was also passed, an implementing resolution (No. 7) called for "The ELCA to amend eligibility provisions of the ELCA Pension and Other Benefits Program, consistent with the policies of this church."
"We are committed to doing what has been mandated by the Churchwide Assembly," said Robert D. Berg, assistant to the president for church relations at the Board of Pensions.
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