Saturday, June 30, 2007

N.J. -- some self-insured companies use DOMA to get around state civil union laws regarding benefits

Anthony Faiola has a story in the Saturday June 30 Washington Post, “Civil Union Laws Don’t Ensure Benefits: Same-Sex N.J. Couples Find that Companies Cam Get Around the New Rules”, at this link.

The main program is that some larger companies are self-insured, and federal law generally allows self-funded companies to ignore state laws regarding mandated benefits. Companies sometimes cite the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act (which Clinton signed) as part of their justification. On the other hand, some larger companies, especially in “bluer” states, have been receptive to public cultural values that trying to do so expresses homophobia and outright discrimination. California has apparently passed a law overriding the federal “override”, and at least company offers gay domestic partnership health insurance coverage in California but not New Jersey.

I worked for a company in Virginia ( a red state) that would not have offered such benefits, but was acquired by a company in Minnesota (a blue state) which did, to all associates, regardless of location Remember that Virginia actually tried to prohibit companies from offering domestic partnerships to same-sex couples, resulting in an outcry.

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