HRC Applauds Wal-Mart's Inclusive Family Policy

'We hope that with equal responsibility come equal benefits,'

said HRC's Daryl Herrschaft.

Jan 27, 2005, 00:00 ET from Human Rights Campaign

    WASHINGTON, Jan. 27 /PRNewswire/ -- The Human Rights Campaign applauded
 Wal-Mart Stores, the nation's largest private employer, for a new definition
 of family that includes same-sex partners recognized under state law.
     "We hope that with equal responsibility come equal benefits," said HRC's
 Daryl Herrschaft, deputy director for HRC's workplace project.  "We are
 encouraged by this sign showing America's heartland employer understands same-
 sex couples share the responsibilities that come with being a family.  It's
 only appropriate for these families to also receive the same benefits as
     Wal-Mart's definition of "immediate family" was included in a conflict-of-
 interest policy the company filed yesterday with the Securities and Exchange
 Commission.  A portion of the policy follows:
       "You are responsible for advancing Wal-Mart's business interests when
       the opportunity to do so arises.  You may not take any opportunities or
       use any confidential information for your benefit, or for the benefit of
       your immediate family members, that you discover or obtain through your
       employment with Wal-Mart.  Immediate family members include (whether by
       birth, adoption, marriage or Domestic Partnership or Civil Union, if
       recognized by your state or other local law) your spouse, children,
       parents, siblings, mothers and fathers-in-law, sons and daughters-in-law
       and brothers and sisters-in-law.
     "We will continue our work to encourage Wal-Mart and other companies to
 expand fair-minded policies to areas where same-sex couples are not recognized
 by law," added Herrschaft.  "Without legal recognition of same-sex couples,
 employers' domestic partner programs are a critical way to ensure that every
 employee's family has equal access to healthcare, medical leave and other
 workplace-offered benefits.  Companies that offer these benefits understand
 that the strength and stability of every employee's family life correlates
 with the quality of their work and the success of the business."
     Currently 228 -- or 45 percent -- of Fortune 500 companies offer
 healthcare benefits to employees' same-sex domestic partners or spouses.  The
 number has increased ten-fold since 1995 when only 21 Fortune 500 companies
 offered the benefits.  Wal-Mart competitors Costco Wholesale, Best Buy and
 Home Depot all offer domestic partner health benefits.
     In July 2003, Wal-Mart expanded its non-discrimination policy to include
 sexual orientation.  Currently, nine of the 10 top companies in the Fortune
 500 include sexual orientation in their non-discrimination policies, and three
 of these companies also include protection against discrimination based on
 gender identity in their policies.
     "Every gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender employee deserves to be
 judged by the job they do, not who they are," said Herrschaft.  "We urge Wal-
 Mart and other companies to add protections for transgender employees so that
 no employee at risk for losing their livelihood for reasons that have nothing
 to do with their work."
     For more information on policies and workplace advocacy, visit HRC Worknet
     The Human Rights Campaign is the largest national lesbian, gay, bisexual
 and transgender political organization with members throughout the country.
 It effectively lobbies Congress, provides campaign support and educates the
 public to ensure that LGBT Americans can be open, honest and safe at home, at
 work and in the community.

SOURCE Human Rights Campaign