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