Since 1982, when The Village Voice, a New
York City weekly newspaper, became the first
employer to offer domestic-partner health-insurance benefits, an increasing number of
companies have begun offering them.
“Many companies are realizing they need
to offer equal benefits to their gay and lesbian
employees in order to be competitive,” says
Daryl Herrschaft, director of workplace projects for the Human Rights Campaign (HRC).
In 2006, 53 percent of Fortune 500 companies offered domestic-partner health insurance, according to the HRC. But Herrschaft
notes that many U.S. companies are expanding benefits and protections for GLBT
employees to include benefits such as family
and medical leave, bereavement leave, relocation assistance and adoption assistance.
He says 71 percent of the U.S. companies
offering domestic-partner health insurance
last year also offered bereavement leave, 63
percent offered relocation assistance and 60
percent offered family medical leave.
Such domestic-partner benefits already have
had a life-changing impact on Christine
Crespo, who uses them to help in the ongo-
ing care of her
triplets. She is
Ernst & Young’s
LGBTA (the A
stands for “ally”)
and has worked
for the company
for 18 years.
have domestic-partner benefits
Kevin Hannan joined the
firm—few companies did. She was instrumental in getting domestic-partner health-insurance benefits at Ernst & Young in 2001
and establishing a GLBT employee-resource
group two years later.
Having the benefits has helped Crespo’s
family life, which she says makes her a more
productive employee. Crespo’s partner nine
years ago gave birth to triplets. Crespo could
have used Ernst & Young’s adoption-assistance
program to adopt the triplets if it were available at the time.
Crespo’s partner, an attorney, recently
decided to go back to school to get a teaching
been able to
provide medical insurance
for her partner
and their children while her
end up getting
a lot of access
to the firm’s
resources as a
result of [hav- Christine Crespo
ing domestic-partner benefits],” she says. “As the kids have
grown up, it’s made a huge difference.”
She says this will save her thousands
because it’s much cheaper for her to add her
partner and the children to her policy than it
would be for her partner to get similar coverage through COBRA.
Ernst & Young also has a spousal-equivalency
policy, which Crespo describes as a process that
constantly seeks to ensure that domestic partners
are provided the same benefits across the board
as married spouses.
“[My partner and I] would have gone forward with children whether one of us had
domestic-partner benefits or not. We were
just at that point in our lives,” she says. “But
knowing the benefits are there has made
things a lot easier.”
She has used the domestic-partner benefits
in the same mundane ways that married people do—everything from childcare to summer
camps to dentist and physician appointments.
A LOYALTY ISSUE
Domestic-partner health-insurance benefits
played a key role in Chubb’s recruitment of
Hannan and have increased his loyalty to the