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Growing corporate support for same-sex partner benefits

Corporate America is raising the rainbow flag and opening the door to tolerance when it comes to lending support for gay and transgender employee benefits. Less than a year after the United States Supreme Court struck down the federal Defense of Marriage Act, gay rights activists are reporting good news on the country's report card.

According to reports from human rights groups, a high percentage of large employers are forging new territory in offering same-sex domestic partner health insurance and other benefits to their workers. Included are many Fortune 500 companies.

Corporations such as Wal-Mart, Wendy's and the Fortune 500 group are approving these changes for the first time to begin next year. Reports emanating from the Corporate Equality Index are documenting landmark decisions affecting discrimination policies in favor of gays, lesbian and transgender workers and job applicants.

The changes stand regardless of the 34 states still refusing to recognize same-sex marriages and are serving to fill in a gap in human rights and employment tolerance. Companies across America are holding gay pride demonstrations and cutting across age and geographical demographics. In an Arkansas Wal-Mart, employees were told they were receiving the same-sex benefits clause part of the working contract for the sake of consistency and uniformity. Some companies were early adopters, but this trend proves to be one of the more across-the-board human rights moves. The practices of inclusion prove that the corporations are seeking to recruit and keep top talent from all parts of Americana.

Ironically, the DOMA has affected the acknowledgment of gay and transgender employees and their families nationwide. The trickle-down effects have included policy modifications with in the Internal Revenue service and the U.S. Labor Department in all aspects of the law for same-sex partners. No matter how conservation a company may be, they are bound by law to offer the same job and benefits to any qualified individual.

While there are still prevailing religious and other discriminatory attitudes regarding one's gender preferences and the right to complain about illegal behavior at the workplace, these changes are a huge step forward for lesbian, gay and transgender employees. In the season of peace and good will towards men, the trend couldn't come at a better time.

sacbee.com, "Gay partner benefits growing at Fortune 500 firms" Lisa Leff, Dec. 08, 2013

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