Some LGBT advocates can’t recognize a sign of victory, or feel it’s not in their organizational interest to do so.
As the Washington Blade reports in Future of domestic partner benefits uncertain, “the U.S. Supreme Court’s historic ruling in June legalizing same-sex marriage in all 50 states…has prompted more private sector employers as well as public employers…to drop domestic partner benefits for their employees.”
Remarked Camilla Taylor, an attorney with Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund, “that’s unfortunate because we believe people should not have to get a legal marriage in order to be respected as a family.”
But this isn’t about “respect”; it’s about reasonably limiting employer-provided benefits to spousal relationships with a commitment to permanency, as demonstrated by becoming a legal family unit with mutual obligations and responsibilities toward each other.
Moreover, the Blade reports:
Lambda Legal and several other national LGBT rights organizations, including the Human Rights Campaign, have issued statements calling on employers to retain domestic partner benefits for unmarried employees.
Some LGBT rights advocates have said forcing employees in a same-sex relationship to marry as a condition for receiving partner benefits such as health insurance coverage could subject them to discrimination in states where anti-LGBT discrimination remains legal.
News flash: If you’ve signed up with the HR department to receive same-sex domestic partner benefits, your employer already knows you’re gay.
While the activists want to paint the ending of DP benefits as a retrenchment, it’s just the opposite. And the employers ending these stop-gap programs haven’t suddenly turned anti-gay. As the Blade noted, according to corporate benefits attorney Todd Solomon, “the companies he knows that have dropped domestic partner benefits have a record of being LGBT supportive due, in part, to their earlier decisions to promote those benefits to same-sex couples that were barred by law from marrying.”
Which, of course, makes sense.
In a companion story, State Dept. considers phasing out DP benefits, the Blade reports that a gay entry-level Foreign Service officer said:
the State Department’s domestic partner program “was the thing that really made” him “feel welcomed” in the agency.
“While it’s great that we can get married much more easily now, my partner and I are not looking forward to being forced into a shotgun marriage due to a policy change that takes away the benefits we were promised.”
Sorry, but absent a contract, benefits are subject to change. And an employer doesn’t owe your boyfriend or girlfriend subsidized health care.