Gay Issues

Walmart to Begin Covering Same-Sex Domestic Partners

| by Sarah Fruchtnicht
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Walmart announced Tuesday it will begin offering health insurance benefits to same-sex domestic partners of employees by 2014.

Health benefits for partners, like spouses, will include medical, dental, vision, life insurance, discount cards, family leave, 401K, critical illness and accident insurance.

More than half of Walmart’s 1.3 million American employees utililize the company’s health care plan. The new plan will apply to all 50 states and Puerto Rico.

Walmart considers a domestic partner to be a legal spouse or a domestic partner of same or opposite gender in an ongoing, exclusive relationship similar to marriage for at least 12 months with the intention to continue sharing a household indefinitely, said spokesman David Tovar.

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"There's no one size fits all solution for people's benefits, so we're trying to offer a number of benefit options and then let associates make choices on what's best for them," Tovar said.

In a letter to employees, Walmart said the move is to help the company stay competitive.

“We operate in 50 states, hundreds of municipalities, and Puerto Rico, and as clarified under the Supreme Court’s decision regarding the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) each of these states are developing different definitions of marriage, domestic partner, civil union, etc.,” the letter said. “By developing a single definition for all Walmart associates in the U.S. and Puerto Rico we are able to ensure consistency for associates in various markets. In order to remain competitive in terms of attracting and retaining great talent to our company, we’re extending our benefits package to include domestic partners.”

Last week, United Parcel Service told its employees that it would no longer offer health converage for the spouses of employees who had health insurance available to them through their own job.

Sources: Reuters, ThinkProgress