HRC Blog

Delaware Coalition Pushes Equal Benefits for State Employees

Last year, the Delaware legislature passed a non discrimination bill prohibiting discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation in employment. Governor Markell stepped up to protect state employees from discrimination on the basis of gender identity as well as sexual orientation. These actions guaranteed state employees could not be excluded from health coverage, but did not protect the families of LGBT employees nor did it address access to pensions for their families. House Bill 10 is an interim step to provide access to health and retirement benefits for same-sex partners of state employees. Delaware, like many other states, is facing a severe budget shortfall. As a result, virtually no bill will be considered by the legislature if it will cost the state money. HB 10 was constructed to allow a state employee to purchase insurance for his or her partner by paying the difference between coverage for an individual and coverage for a family or spouse. By adding a spouse to a pension, the state has never incurred costs and it will not incur costs to add a same-sex partner. HRC has been working with a broad coalition of progressive Delaware organizations to educate the legislature on the importance of providing access as a next step towards equality. Already the group is gearing up for more expansive action in the next legislative session.

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