Benefits of Offering Domestic Partner Benefits

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Benefits of Offering Domestic Partner Coverage
In order for companies to be competitive and diversified in the marketplace today, many are offering domestic partner benefits. Companies need to embrace the new world of opportunities in the workplace and marketplace, and be determined to be the best. Some jurisdictions have instituted domestic partnerships as a way to recognize same-sex unions, domestic partnerships may involve either different-sex or same-sex couples. Recent controversy has surrounded same sex domestic partner benefits since same sex marriages are not recognized by the government. Companies that recognizes a critical component of success is the ability to value and leverage diversity-that is, the power of the people.

Domestic Partners have been defined as legal or personal relationship between individuals who live together and share a common domestic life but are not joined in a traditional marriage, a common-law marriage, or a civil union. The phrases domestic partner was first used to describe living arrangements in 1985 according to The American Heritage Book of English Usage.

The values range from being recognized as a culturally diverse company to attracting talent that would likely go to another company for the benefits. The problem has been health, dental, vision, pharmacy, long-term care, personal accident insurance and life insurance benefits are being offered to employees and their dependents, but not to domestic partners. With the increasing cost of medical attention, it is near impossible to live with out insurance coverage. Some companies are only recognizing legally married couples as qualified family members, which in turns leaves out unmarried opposite and same sex couples. One key question has been how does one prove that he or she is a domestic partner? This is left up to the individual company, corporation and agency. The common practice is to sign an affidavit stating that the person is an adult person living with, but not married to, another adult person in a committed, intimate relationship. Domestic partner benefits have been an issue for employees since more same sex relationships are now in the public forefront. Same sex couples went to employers wanting the domestic partner for opposite sex benefits offered to them.

In 1982, the Village Voice, a New York City weekly, became the first employer to offer domestic partner benefits to its lesbian and gay employees. By 1990, there were fewer than two dozen U.S. employers that offered "spousal equivalent" benefits to their gay employees' partners (Human 2006). In 1992, the Lotus Notes Development Corporation was the first publicly traded company to offer domestic partner benefits (Prudential) and in 1992 Levi Strauss based in San Francisco was the first Fortune 500 company to extend health benefits to unmarried domestic partners (Armour). Prudential began offering domestic partner benefits in 2000 to help stay competitive with other financial services companies and attract a diverse group of workers (Prudential). Today there are 9,390 employer's that offer domestic partner benefits of that 261 are Fortune 500 companies, 8,609 are private companies and corporations, 13 are state governments, 137 are city and county governments and 299 college and universities (Human 2006).

Under federal law, most companies prohibit employment discrimination based on non-job-related factors such as race, sex, religion and marital status. No federal law offers similar protections to employees based on their sexual orientation or gender identity either real or perceived.

Some government politicians are getting involved. Senator Joseph Lieberman, Democrat-Connecticut and Senator Gordon Smith, Republican-Oregon, sought co-sponsors for legislation they plan to introduce extending domestic partner benefits to federal employees. In a recent letter to their colleagues, the two Senators noted that a majority of Fortune 500 companies...
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