EMPLOYEE BENEFITS & MUNICIPAL REGISTRATION FOR SAME-SEX COUPLES:
Same Sex Benefits in the Workplace:
It is not unusual for companies in the U.S. to have programs having health-care
benefits to the partners of heterosexual
employees. Some are now extending them to the partners of their homosexual
employees as well; this is one indicator of the growing acceptance of homosexual
committed partnerships as equivalent to heterosexual marriages.
David Smith, spokesman for The Human Rights Campaign said that the number of
U.S. firms offering such benefits has exploded since 1992. 1 He feels that the main reason is economic:
many companies need to offer these benefits in order to attract and keep employees.
have shown that these extended programs are not costly. Fewer than 1 percent of employees in a typical company opt for same-gender partner
benefits. The percentage of employees who are gay or lesbian and in domestic
partnerships is estimated to be
considerably higher. But most of their partners are employed and thus may already have their
own benefit plan.
According to the Human Rights Campaign, 2 as of mid-2000:
||3,400 private and public employers in the U.S. provide domestic-partner benefits
for lesbian/gay employees.|
||In 2000-JUN, the big three automakers (Daimler-Chrysler Corp., Ford Motor
Co., and General Motors Corp.) announced that they would extend benefits starting
||On 2000-JUN-22, the Coca-Cola Company announced that it will extend
benefits on 2001-JAN-1.|
||99 companies out of of the 500 largest companies in the U.S., as
listed in the Fortune 500 gave these benefits. This includes six of the top
ten companies: General Motors, Ford, IBM, Citigroup Inc., AT&T and
Boeing. (15 months later, in late 2001-SEP, the number had grown to
about 165.) 7|
||Other large companies which provide domestic-partner benefits are: American Express,
American Airlines, Amoco, Avon, Barnes & Noble, Chevron Oil, Clorox, Coors Brewing, Disney, Eastman Kodak,
Gap, General Mills, Hewlett Packard, IBM, Levi Strauss, Mattel, Microsoft, Nike, Nynex, Pacific Telesis, Pillsbury, Proctor and
Gamble, Quark, Reebok, Shell, Starbucks Coffee, Sun
Microsystems, Time Warner, United Airlines, US Airways, US West, and Xerox.|
||Very few companies have rescinded their extended benefit program:
||Perot Systems Inc, headed by former presidential candidate Ross Perot, did in
||At the time of the Exxon-Mobil merger, 1999-DEC-30, Mobil's
domestic partner benefits program was discontinued.
||These benefits have become very common within certain economic
sectors, including computers, movies, airlines and oil companies. 3|
Reaction from conservative Christian groups:
At first glance, it would seem surprising that conservative Christian
ministries and denominations would oppose health benefits for same sex partners.
These groups have long been opposed to promiscuous behavior, and one of the best
way to encourage monogamy is by promoting marriage, common-law heterosexual
relationships and same-sex unions. But there is an over-riding concern here.
Religious conservatives frequently believe that people chose their sexual
orientation during their teen years. They also feel that God hates homosexual
behavior. By maximizing discrimination against homosexuals, they fell that the
number of youth who "choose" to be gay or lesbian will decrease.
Some comments on domestic partnership benefits are:
||In 1997, messengers at the Southern Baptist Convention's annual meeting adopted a resolution opposing
domestic- partner benefits and affirming businesses that "resist
pressures to recognize the moral equivalence of domestic
||American Family Association commented on 1998-FEB-12 about a decision by
Amoco and Mobil to offer same-sex benefits. Their vice-president,
Tim Wildmon, wrote that the companies were using the "supposed
victimization and discrimination against homosexuals as an excuse for the
policy change, while the real reason is money and the normalization of a gay
lifestyle. Character, integrity, and morality have lost their meaning in the
corporate boardrooms of Amoco and Mobil. Money has become more
important than morals. Amoco and Mobil have lost their moral base, and if
there are no rights or wrongs in society then we are left with hedonism -
everything is right as long as it brings a person pleasure. This is a
destructive philosophy, and does not bode well for our children and future
generations." 4 In his news release, he did not
indicate how the companies' policy change would increase their profits, or
why extending benefits to all of their employees was an immoral choice, or
why encouraging gay and lesbian employees to form committed relationships
would increase hedonism.
||In 1998-MAY-14, Tim Wildmon criticized AT&T's decision to extend
benefits. He said: "AT&T sees nothing wrong with their policy as
long as a dollar can be made. There is nothing gay about the human suffering
caused by AIDS and the tremendous cost to the taxpayers." 5
Again, he did not explain in his news release how encouraging single
gays and lesbians to form committed partnerships would increase the
transmission of AIDS.
||In 1999-OCT, when US Airways announced benefits for partners of its
lesbian and gay employees, Herb Hollinger of the Southern Baptist Convention
commented: "I can understand from a business point of view. We think
it's a commentary on our culture, in which it's basically 'anything goes.' ''
Registration of same-sex relationships by American cities
||Municipal governments: As of 1999-OCT-15, almost 50 cities in the United States offered domestic partnership registries.
||Ann Arbor, MI