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. 1He 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, 2as 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Very few companies have rescinded their extended benefit program: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." 5Again, 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
San Francisco, CA
West Hollywood, CA
Typically, these registries will record same-sex partnerships where both
spouses are over the age of 18. Some couples receive a certificate indicating
their status. Registries have no force in law and do not grant significant rights,
privileges or responsibilities to the couple.
During debate in Congress in 2001-SEP, it was revealed that since 1992, 113
cities had implemented domestic partnership legislation.
Domestic partnership legislation ban in Washington DC: In
2001-SEP, the House debated the lifting of the ban on domestic partnership
legislation in Washington DC. Debate was divided along party lines:
Representative Dave Weldon, (R-FL) was concerned that if the ban
were lifted, it would "place heterosexual and homosexual
cohabiting relationships on an equal footing with traditional
Representative Tom DeLay, (R-TX) commented: "We
are walking away from the traditions and virtues that we have
respected and honored since our country was founded."
Representative Barney Frank, (D-MA) said: "I
was deeply shocked that the Republican leadership had chosen to
use this bill to make an assault on millions of gay and lesbian
Americans in general and on those who live in the District of
Columbia in particular." Frank is openly gay.
Rep. Nancy Pelosi, (D-CA) simply said: "No
citizen should be denied the right to care for an ailing partner."
David Smith, spokesman for Human Rights
Campaign, a gay-positive group, said that his organization was
gratified by the vote. "It's just a shame that that has to be
Weldon introduced an amendment that would
restore the ban. The amendment was defeated 226 to 194. Washington
DC is expected to be the 114th city offering domestic benefits in
the near future. 7
Registry in Ashland, OR: On 1999-OCT-5, when the city council of Ashland, OR, discussed establishing a registry,
two female ministers (a Methodist and a Unitarian Universalist)
spoke in favor of the resolution. One pastor and three Christians, all male,
spoke against it. The vote was 3 to 1 in favor. Mayor Catherine Shaw commented
"I think the arguments were fairly predictable on both sides. Those for
it said it was important for one segment of the population to have more of an
official body to recognize their commitment to each other. The others primarily
were arguments centered around Christianity and the issue of undermining the
institution of marriage by allowing this kind of process." She
continued: "Because I believe in marriage, I understand a little better
why this particular segment of society was coming forward. I could understand
why some couples who are unable to obtain a marriage license wanted a piece of
paper from their local government. We want to do all we can to be in committed
relationships, to care for each other." Concerning the resolution
itself, she said: "If a certain segment of the population comes to us
with a request that requires no public funds and little or no effort on the part
of city government, and brings them peace of mind and helps loving human beings
further commit to each other, I don't see why we shouldn't do it. "Councilman
Cameron Hanson, who voted against the resolution was quoted as saying:
"It's not the city's place to be advocating homosexual unions. It's not
a political issue. It's a moral issue."
Barrett Duke, a spokesperson for the Ethics & Religious Liberty
Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention expressed opposition to
the Ashland registry. He apparently believes that such a registry is the first
step down a slippery slope that will lead to eradication of the nuclear
family: "I think there are a lot of people out there who believe
they do not have a right to impose their own moral values on others. They're
willing to let other people make decisions about their lives as long as it
doesn't affect them, and they don't see it will have any impact on their own
lifestyles. They fail to recognize that acceptance of the new relationships is a
first step toward the breakdown of their own lifestyles. These folks do not
understand that when (pre- and extra-marital) sexual relationships are
encouraged and same-sex marriages allowed, their children will be exposed to a
much different mess than they were exposed to. What for us is considered fringe,
our children will consider normal and the next step -- whatever it might be --
can be taken toward the further abolishment of the nuclear family."
Duke expressed concern "that so few pastors and churches are speaking
out on these important issues. If the church is silent, there is no voice for
God." He apparently believes that Methodists and Unitarian
Universalists do not speak for God -- only conservative Christians.
Aftermath of the terrorist attack on New York City and the
Pentagon: The American Red Cross announced it would give
benefits to gays and lesbians who lost partners in the 2001-SEP-11
terrorist attack on New York City and Arlington. Stacey Grissom, media
relations associate for the Red Cross, said with exquisite clarity and
simplicity: "Red Cross is a neutral and impartial organization and we
help people who need help. So, we don't help with regards to race,
creed, color, religion and sexual orientation. We help people who need
to be helped." Grissom said the Red Cross is working with employers
to locate information on victims' nearest living relatives. "So in
those cases where the next of kin is listed as a domestic partner, that
would be a person who would definitely get benefits," she said. 8,9
Matt Foreman, executive director of Empire State Pride Agenda, a gay-positive
organization, said his group
had received commitments from several relief organizations to assist homosexuals
who had lost their domestic partner in the attacks. However, he said: "No
matter what kind of work we do and no matter how successful we are with the Red
Cross, with United Way, with these various relief funds, gay and lesbian
survivors are still going to face a huge inequity. No matter what work we do,
we're not going to be able to get them to tap into the key long-term government
supported programs." Such programs are for heterosexual couples only.
Rev. Louis P. Sheldon, chairman of the Traditional Values Coalition, a
Fundamentalist Christian organization, said
money should not be granted to homosexuals who lost partners in the attack. He
"[Relief organizations] should be first giving priority to those widows who were
at home with their babies, and those widowers who lost their wives. It should be given on the basis and priority of one man and one woman in
a marital relationship. This is just another example of how the gay agenda is
seeking to overturn the one man-one woman relationship from center stage in
America, taking advantage of this tragedy." It is not clear whether he is
advocating that married widows and widowers without children should have their
support cut-off. It is also not clear whether he would wish that heterosexual
widows and widowers with children should be supported by relief organizations.
We have Faxed the Traditional Values Coalition for clarification.
Sorry, we have lost the citation for this statement.