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Partnership Benefits Programs Continue to Expand
In an unstated but obvious acknowledgment of the power of impact litigation efforts, United Airlines has announced that it will provide the domestic partners of lesbian and gay male employees a wide range of benefits. United Airlines had been leading the defense of their discrimination in a widely-publicized lawsuit brought by the City of San Francisco, arguing that the City had no authority to compel the airlines to provide domestic partner benefits as a condition of leasing space at the San Francisco airport. While United continues to assert that the City has no authority to tell them what to do, in fact United has agreed to do the thing which was being sought in the lawsuit!
In a telling move which signals the importance of winning benefits from lead players in the corporate world, American Airlines and Federal Express promptly announced that they too would provide domestic partner benefits to their employees.
In a legal move which may send a signal to companies and government agencies struggling to deal with the issue of domestic partnership benefits, a federal court has ruled that giving gay couples such benefits but denying them to straight couples does not create any legal problems. The court ruled (in Foray v. Bell Atlantic, 1999 WL370631, U.S. District Court, S.D.N.Y. June 8, 1999) that since straight couples could always get married and receive all the benefits denied to gay couples, they are "differently situated" and therefore it is not discrimination to give these benefits to gay couples only. This issue has been plaguing many employers wishing to limit benefits to gay couples only, and if this legal trend continues, this will no longer be seen as a difficult legal obstacle.
As the list of companies providing domestic partner benefits continues to grow, understanding the benefits -- and the limits -- of domestic partnership programs becomes increasingly important. Accordingly, here is a list of questions every couple should ask themselves when deciding whether to register as domestic partners:
More Bad News on Adoption
Anti-gay decisions on the adoption front continue to emerge. In Pennsylvania a local court denied a gay man's request to adopt the children of his partner. In Matter of Adoption of C.C.G and Z.C.G), the court ruled that the applicant was not a spouse of the legal parent and therefore could not adopt the children without terminating the parental rights of his partner.
Meanwhile, in Florida, the Court of Appeals (in Kazmierazak v. Query, 1999 L 415215, June 23, 1999) turned down a petition by a lesbian co-parent for custody and temporary visitation of her child, ruling that being a "psychological parent" was not adequate to meet the legal standards for presenting such a claim to the courts.
For those wanting to do further research in these and other areas of interest, check out these valuable legal resources on the internet:
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