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Corporations Discriminate on Domestic Partnerships December 8, 2006

Posted by federalist in Economic Policy, Social Politics, Taxation.
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I was reviewing the Benefits Guide of a Fortune 50 company and was fascinated by the rules covering benefits for Domestic Partners.  I understand “Domestic Partnerships” are the codeword for both homosexual couples who would like to “marry” but who legally can’t, and also for heterosexual couples who could legally marry but don’t.  Many companies have taken to placating the gay lobby by extending benefits traditionally granted to married families to gay couples, so the means by which they do this is of widespread consequence.

The first point of interest is that the benefits granted by the company to Domestic Partners are counted as taxable income, whereas medical benefits to married partners and dependents are not taxable.  Also, “Domestic partners and their eligible dependents are eligible to be covered under all Health and Welfare benefit plans except Flexible Spending Accounts.”  There’s that archaic federal tax code getting in the way again: You can make an end-run around the norms of God and society, but good luck getting around the government’s tailored tax exemptions!

The second point of interest is that at least this company explicitly forbids employees from registering blood relatives a Domestic Partners.  Why would they discriminate on this basis?

Here is how the company regulates Domestic Partnerships:

An adult (of either gender) is considered your domestic partner if you are engaged in a spouse-like relationship with the adult and your relationship meets one of the following criteria:

  1. You and your same-sex domestic partner are lawfully married pursuant to a state or foreign law permitting same-sex marriages, or
  2. You and your domestic partner are registered as domestic partners through a governmental domestic partnership registry, or
  3. You and your domestic partner are registered as domestic partners through the Benefits Center.  To register through the Benefit Center, your relationship must meet all of the following criteria:
  •  
    • You have shared a primary residence for at least six months and are responsible to each other for the direction and management of your household
    • You are both legally entitled to reside in your household under applicable immigration laws
    • You have a committed relationship of mutual caring that has existed for at least six months prior to enrollment in the company’s benefit plans
    • Your relationship is expected to be long-term
    • You are both 18 years of age or older and mentally competent
    • Neither you nor your domestic partner is married or has another domestic partner
    • You are not blood relatives
    • You have not been married to each other at any time within the past 12 months

So if I’m a widower with children, and I bring in my widowed mother to help care for them as our homemaker, she is not eligible for benefits.  But if I’m a gay bachelor, I can get my roommate on the dole as long as he has been living with me for 6 months.  That makes a lot of sense.

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