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EMPLOYEE BENEFITS & MUNICIPAL REGISTRATION FOR SAME-SEX COUPLES:

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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. 

Studies 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:

bullet 3,400 private and public employers in the U.S. provide domestic-partner benefits for lesbian/gay employees.
bullet In 2000-JUN, the big three automakers (Daimler-Chrysler Corp., Ford Motor Co., and General Motors Corp.) announced that they would extend benefits starting 2000-AUG-1. 
bullet On 2000-JUN-22, the Coca-Cola Company announced that it will extend benefits on 2001-JAN-1.
bullet 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
bullet 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.
bullet Very few companies have rescinded their extended benefit program:
bullet Perot Systems Inc, headed by former presidential candidate Ross Perot, did in 1998. 
bullet At the time of the Exxon-Mobil merger, 1999-DEC-30, Mobil's domestic partner benefits program was discontinued.
bullet These benefits have become very common within certain economic sectors, including computers, movies, airlines and oil companies. 3

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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:

bullet 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 partnerships."
bullet 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. 
bullet 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. 
bullet 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.' ''

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Registration of same-sex relationships by American cities

bullet Municipal governments: As of 1999-OCT-15, almost 50 cities in the United States offered domestic partnership registries. 1 They include:
bullet Ann Arbor, MI
bullet Atlanta GA

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