Partners Task Force for Gay & Lesbian Couples
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Facts on Domestic Partnership Benefits
© 2003, Demian

  • A 1993 Brown University study (sited in the June 1995 ABA Journal) found that only 0.36 to 0.77 percent of employees sign up for domestic partner benefits. Firms found that their $100,000 allocations for planned costs finally only came to about $10,000, due to low sign-up.
  • In the past, nearly all companies extending benefits have been self-insured — this has changed. After March 1994, national insurers like Aetna, CIGNA and Prudential include, at least in parts of the country, domestic partners in fully insured health plans. Blue Cross/Blue Shield of Massachusetts offers no-cost rider domestic partner coverage for medical and dental benefits to groups of 50 or more.
  • Stanford University’s far-reaching domestic partner policy allows unmarried partners of students — same- or opposite-sex — to qualify for married student housing and to use the university’s health clinic, libraries and athletic facilities. In addition, the school provides benefits to partners of staff and faculty.
  • From the Home Economics Association:
    “A family: Two or more persons who share resources, share responsibilities for decisions, share values and goals, and have commitments to one another over a period of time. The family is that climate that one comes home to; and it is that network of sharing and commitment that most accurately describes the family unit, regardless of blood, legalities, adoption or marriage.”
  • The U.S. Office of Personnel Management published a new rule on Dec. 2, 1994, that defines family as souses, parents, children, including adopted children, brothers and sisters and their spouses and “any individual related by blood or affinity whose close association with the employee is the equivalent of a family relationship.” This should allow federal workers to use sick leave to provide care for ill domestic partners.
  • With one of the largest gay and lesbian populations in America, after two years, only about 1,590 same-sex couples had signed on for registration in San Francisco.
  • A domestic partnership was recognized by State Farm Insurance in 1994 after a fire destroyed a couple’s home which had been insured only by one of the men. State Farm covered both partners’ possessions upon learning they had registered as domestic partners in Laguna Beach. But it took months of arguments from Lambda Legal before Allstate issued a joint liability policy in 1995 for a gay couple registered as domestic partners in New York City.
  • The IRS ruled in November 1994 that a multi-employer fund may offer health benefits to same-sex domestic partners without jeopardizing its tax-exempt status. However, the fund must limit its domestic partner benefit to a de minimis of the amount it pays for all employee health benefits. The ruling came in a private letter, in which the agency approved one employer’s plan that projected domestic partners would constitute less than 3.4 percent of it’s benefits plan. Taxes are still paid on the benefits by the employee’s partner.
  • From the American Humanist Association in a statement on the family (1978):
    “Any two people … wishing to make a commitment to one another … should be considered a family … and receive those benefits accorded to families by society. Blood kinship should not be required of family members, nor should marriages.”

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