Domestic Partner Health Insurance Benefits Continue To Spread

The number of employers that offer domestic partner health
insurance benefits increased by 162 in the six months ending March 31, going
from 4,285 in August 2001 to 4,447, according to the Human Rights Campaign's
WorkNet project. This represents a 3.8 percent increase in six months.

In the first quarter of calendar 2002, 47 employers announced or
added domestic partner benefits, including four Fortune 500 companies. They
are: Dow Chemical Co., Northeast Utilities System Inc., Lincoln National
Corp. and General Dynamics Corp. (to former Motorola employees in its
Decision Systems division only).

"It's encouraging to see so many employers continuing to add these
benefits, even with last year's economic downturn and the uncertain times
since September 11," said HRC Education Director Kim I. Mills, who oversees
HRC WorkNet. "This trend continues to demonstrate that smart employers
recognize these benefits are good for business because they attract, keep
and motivate employees."

Mills noted that the new numbers appear to represent a slowing in the rate
of employers adding these benefits. Between August 2000 and August 2001,
when HRC published its last annual report on "The State of the Workplace for
Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Americans," at least 712 U.S.
employers had added domestic partner health insurance benefits during that
period. This was an increase of 20 percent in a single year.

However, the August-March data do not include employers that may have added
benefits in response to equal benefits ordinances, local laws that require
city or county contractors to offer the same benefits to domestic partners
that they offer to spouses. There are equal benefits ordinances in: San
Francisco; Seattle; Los Angeles; Berkeley, Calif.; San Mateo County, Calif.;
and Tumwater, Wash. One city – Oakland, Calif. – has passed an equal
benefits ordinance since August 2001. That law is scheduled to take effect
July 1, 2002.

Since last August, the number of Fortune 500 companies adding
domestic partner health insurance benefits rose 11 percent through March 31,
reaching an all-time high of 161. This was an increase of 16 for the period.
The overall percentage of Fortune 500 companies offering DP health insurance
benefits rose to 32 percent at the end of the first quarter of calendar
2002, up from 29 percent in August 2001. The closer a company is to the top
of the Fortune list, the more likely it is to offer such benefits: 58
percent of the Fortune 50 now have them.

Among the snapshot's other findings:

  • From August 2001 and March 31, 24 cities, counties and
    quasi-governmental agencies (such as public transit systems or school
    districts) added domestic partner benefits for their employees. That brought
    the total to 129 as of March 31, 2002, up from 105 in August and 124 at the
    end of 2001.

  • Between August 2001 and March 31, at least 116 employers – including
    businesses, unions, colleges and universities and state and local
    governments — added sexual orientation to their equal employment
    opportunity policies, according to HRC WorkNet. This brought the total to
    2,117, up from 2,001 six months earlier. Thirty-five employers added the
    policy in the first quarter of 2002.

  • Employers are continuing to add the category of gender identity to
    their non-discrimination policies. Between August 2001 and March 31, three
    cities and one county enacted measures that prohibit gender identity
    discrimination in both public and private work forces. And the number of
    employers that include gender identity in their equal employment opportunity
    policies almost doubled during the period, from 20 to 36.

A complete copy of the snapshot report can be found on HRC's
website.

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