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Boeing Won’t Offer Pension Benefits to Same-Sex Couples

Igor Volsky
Think Progress / News Report
Published: Sunday 25 November 2012
The Defense of Marriage Act prevents the federal government from recognizing same-sex couples, even if states allow for such unions: Goforth explains that his union has long sought equal pension benefits for same-sex domestic partners, to no avail.
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Boeing Company — one of the largest global aircraft manufacturers in the world — has told its union that it will likely deny “pension survivor benefits to same-sex married couples” in Washington State, even after voters approved marriage equality in November, The Stranger reports.

Union representative Ray Goforth told The Stranger that Boeing during contract negotiations, the company maintained that pension benefits are governed by the federal Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) and that it does not plan to voluntarily offer benefits to the partners of their gay and lesbian employees. The Defense of Marriage Act prevents the federal government from recognizing same-sex couples, even if states allow for such unions:

Goforth explains that his union has long sought equal pension benefits for same-sex domestic partners, to no avail. But since voters approved same sex marriage—establishing parity with married straight couples—Goforth re-framed the proposal to apply to his union’s gay Boeing employees who wed. “Their answer was that they had no intention of granting pension survivor benefits to legally married same-sex couples because they didn’t have to,” Goforth explains. Boeing representatives told him that pensions are governed by federal law, which doesn’t recognize same-sex marriage, thereby trumping the state law on the matter.

“We were profoundly disappointed to see that they would use a loophole to engage in institutionalized discrimination,” Goforth says.

Since Slog published its report, Boeing issued a statement promising to reassess the impact of Washington State’s marriage equality referendum on company policy. “Boeing is taking a closer look at how R-74 might impact company policies once it takes effect in December,” the statement said. “Nothing is ever final in negotiations until they’re over,” a company spokesperson told the Slog. “What we said today is that [these pension benefits] are not currently addressed in the contract.”

A growing number of companies are offering equal benefits for equal work, regardless of sexual orientation and recognizing that “treating all workers equally makes good business sense.” “Research consistently shows that unfair and discriminatory work environments cripple an employer’s ability to recruit and retain the best and the brightest. These negative environments also stifle job performance and productivity.”



The Defense of Marriage Act

The Defense of Marriage Act unconstitutional. The congressional supporters of DOMA have violated their oaths of office and have failed to uphold the US Constitution.

Since the Federal government deems that it MUST stick its nose into the marriage contract (granting legal status), legal marriage status MUST be offered to all US citizens regardless of race, gender, etc.

The real solution is the rightful separation of religious marriage (contract that your god is in control of) and legal unions. Churches could marry anyone they wanted or not and it would only have legal standing in the court of God. The marriage terms would not be able to be enforced by local, state, or federal law. Federal legal unions would be upheld in Federal courts and the contract terms would be enforceable nationwide.

Smart employers would offer the same benefits to all employees. But that is why we have laws, there is a need to try and regulate stupid.

Jeltez42 ... Despite

Jeltez42 ... Despite government's failure to discharge its duties as enumerated in the Constitution, the most important part(s) of your comments is your last paragraph -- both sentences. The last made me laugh; the first is on the money.

I recently retired from a career in HR having worked for several different Fortune 100 companies. All but one had strong anti-discrimination policies covering benefits and pension payouts to same-sex couples. The one firm that did not have an anti-discrimination policy in place had a harder and harder time attracting top-tier talent, especially workers in the 21-35 age group. That made it difficult for the company to find the next generation of potential leaders to be groomed for future management positions. And as far as IT employees? No way.

Younger employees have grown up thinking gay equality has always been the norm. To them, anti-gay policies regarding benefits are as crazy as laws prohibiting inter-racial marriage. To these prospective employees' credit, they realize if a company has discriminatory benefits policies, it also is not likely to be forward thinking when it comes to overall business policies and practices. Given the realities of contemporary employment, one always has to be ready to take the next opportunity that comes along. Seniority is no assurance of upward corporate mobility; working for a company that stays competitive and cutting-edge in ALL areas is the best insurance that an employee will remain relevant and attractive to its current and future employers.

Bottom line is Boeing will continue facing a harder and harder fight to attract top-tier talent, gay or straight. More, as the worlds of aviation and aeronautics, so too must Boeing change if it hopes to remain competitive or even survive for another 25 years. Lacking employes who can envision, plan for and execute radical new business models as dictated by industrial evolution, Boeing will likely follow many others on to the scrap heap of companies that refused to accept that the only constant in business is change.

South Carolina won't be any

South Carolina won't be any different from Washington State if the Supreme Court decides to hear the appeal of the California Supreme Court's ruling that Proposition 8 is unconstitutional, since their ruling is bound to invalidate DOMA and other similar legislation. Arbitrary discrimination against a group of Americans for no purpose but bigotry is not protected under the Constitution, whether that group is specifically listed or not.

move to S C

move to S C

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