HRC today strongly urged employers to maintain domestic partner benefits for their workers going forward as a sign of sustained commitment to family diversity, inclusion and protection of LGBT employees whose rights outside the workplace are not guaranteed under law in many states.
“Best-in-class employers will continue to offer domestic partner benefits to same-sex and opposite-sex couples, embracing family diversity and maintaining a competitive talent pool,” said Deena Fidas, Director of HRC’s Workplace Equality Program. “In fact, the business sector trend line has pointed to employers viewing partner benefits as key to a fully-inclusive workforce – beyond the LGBT community.”
HRC research shows that two-thirds of Fortune 500 companies offer domestic partner benefits to employees with same-sex partners. And 62 percent of those companies also make domestic partner benefits available to employees with opposite-sex partners.
Companies that move to eliminate domestic partner benefits, and instead require legal marriage to ensure partner and family benefits, will be putting their employees’ family members -- including both same-sex and opposite-sex partners -- at risk of being uninsured. And they would also put scores of LGBT employees and their families who live in states without full non-discrimination protections at risk for discrimination in employment, credit, housing, and public accommodation.
“If an LGBT employee is, in effect, ‘outed’ by being required to obtain a public marriage license in a state that doesn’t provide explicit non-discrimination protections, it could place that employee and their family at risk of being denied credit, housing and public accommodation,” said HRC Legal Director Sarah Warbelow. “These core elements of daily life could be compromised for LGBT families, even in states that might honor their marriage license.”
Even as marriage equality expands, domestic partner benefits continue to ensure that all employees will be treated equally. In the absence of full, explicit non-discrimination protections nationwide, a U.S. Supreme Court decision on marriage equality will not erase the uncertainty of how couples who decide to marry will be treated across state lines. That’s why HRC is fighting for a federal LGBT non-discrimination bill that will address discrimination in credit, education, employment, federal funding, housing, jury service, and public accommodations.
HRC exhorts employers to recognize the complexity of American families by committing to best practices and maintaining domestic partner benefits for their employees going forward.