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Google Gives a Damn!

Jul 01st, 2010 01:37 PM By

The following is an excerpt from a story by The New York Times:

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“Working for a company as rich as Google comes with an incredible number of fringe benefits: the free food, the free laundry, the doctor on duty at company headquarters and the impressive five months of maternity leave with full pay and benefits, to mention a few.

“So it is not entirely surprising that the company is about to introduce another set of benefits that pushes the envelope — this time, geared toward its gay and lesbian workers.

“On Thursday, Google is going to begin covering a cost that gay and lesbian employees must pay when their partners receive domestic partner health benefits, largely to compensate them for an extra tax that heterosexual married couples do not pay. The increase will be retroactive to the beginning of the year.

“’It’s a fairly cutting edge thing to do,’ said Todd A. Solomon, a partner in the employee benefits department of McDermott Will & Emery, a law firm in Chicago, and author of ‘Domestic Partner Benefits: An Employer’s Guide.’

“Google is not the first company to make up for the extra tax. At least a few large employers already do. But benefits experts say Google’s move could inspire its Silicon Valley competitors to follow suit, because they compete for the same talent.

“Under federal law, employer-provided health benefits for domestic partners are counted as taxable income, if the partner is not considered a dependent. The tax owed is based on the value of the partner’s coverage paid by the employer.

“On average, employees with domestic partners will pay about $1,069 more a year in taxes than a married employee with the same coverage, according to a 2007 report by M. V. Lee Badgett, director of the Williams Institute, a research group that studies sexual orientation policy issues.

“So Google is essentially going to cover those costs, putting same-sex couples on an even footing with heterosexual employees whose spouses and families receive health benefits.”

Read the full New York Times story >>

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Hospitals Nationwide Poised to Add Inclusive Policies

Jun 08th, 2010 09:38 AM By

The following is an excerpt from the Human Rights Campaign Foundation’s press release:

hei-2010-small_rdax_100A new analysis of healthcare equality by the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) Foundation found that the vast majority of U.S. healthcare facilities don’t have fully inclusive policies toward lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people, but that sweeping new changes will soon dramatically alter how LGBT people interact with the healthcare system.

Kaiser Permanente – one of the nation’s largest not-for-profit health providers – updated its Patients’ Bill of Rights to fully protect LGBT patients and their families from discrimination. These changes, which took effect in Kaiser Permanente’s network of 36 hospitals today, make Kaiser Permanente the first large health network to have a fully inclusive non-discrimination policy for LGBT people. They are also the first health network to achieve Top Performer status in the HRC Foundation’s Healthcare Equality Index (HEI).

The HEI 2010 comes following President Obama’s memorandum in April directing Health and Human Services (HHS) to make rules that require all hospitals that receive federal Medicare and Medicaid funding – nearly every hospital in America – to protect the visitation and healthcare decision-making rights of LGBT people. It also comes as the Joint Commission, which accredits and certifies healthcare facilities, has announced new, fully inclusive patient non-discrimination standards as part of their accreditation process. Together, these developments mean that LGBT healthcare equality is going to improve nationwide, in towns big and small, from New York to Mississippi to Utah to San Francisco.

Read the full HRC Foundation press release >>

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President Extends Benefits to Gay Federal Workers

Jun 03rd, 2010 01:24 PM By

The following is an excerpt from a story by The Washington Post:

“President Obama extended Wednesday a wider range of benefits to the same-sex partners of eligible federal workers, including access to medical treatment, relocation assistance, credit unions and fitness centers.

“The move goes beyond a memo Obama signed last June, which permitted same-sex partners to use the government’s long-term-care insurance and other fringe benefits. The Office of Personnel Management said Tuesday that same-sex partners will become eligible for such insurance next month.

“Obama also ordered federal agencies last year to identify other benefits that could be offered to same-sex partners. A review by the Office of Personnel Management and Justice Department determined that at least some agencies could also permit credit union and gym memberships and access to counseling services, adoption counseling, and agency events or outings.

“A limited number of intelligence and financial regulatory agencies, Obama’s memo said, will be able to provide reimbursements for health-insurance premiums, dental and vision insurance, business travel accident insurance and tax reimbursements for gym memberships, physical exams and homeowners’ insurance.”

Read the full Washington Post story >>

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Minnesota Governor Vetos End-of-Life Bill

May 17th, 2010 11:54 AM By

The following is an excerpt from a story on TwinCities.com:

“Gov. Tim Pawlenty vetoed a bill Saturday that would have given same-sex partners the right to decide what to do with the body of their loved ones, should they die.

“Pawlenty had said he would veto the bill, calling it unnecessary because partners can draw up a living will. But advocates argue that married couples do not have to do that and that legal documents often cost money to draft.”

Read the full story on TwinCities.com >>

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Same Sex Partner Benefits

Apr 28th, 2010 01:18 AM By Lynn

I am a 38 year old lesbian, and have been with my partner for almost 15 years. I was injured at work 5 years ago, and because I chose to pursue a lawsuit against my employer at the time, I lost my job.

I then began working at a local hospital as an RN with almost 18 years experience. The particular hospital is part of a larger health care system in our area, and as one of it’s employee benefits, they offer what they call “Same Sex Partner Benefits.” I had surgery in 2008 and was unable to return to work after that.

Since I couldn’t afford to continue my benefits on my own, we decided that it would be better for her to add me as a dependant on her health benefits. Neither of us had ever explored this option previously, because we had always both worked and carried our own insurance. We assumed there would be the obvious paperwork involved, but we NEVER expected what we were about to endure.

The entire process took MONTHS to complete, during which I was uninsured and had no prescription coverage. Aside from the usual, basic info required, we practically had to send these people our entire filing cabinet!

We both have seperate checking accounts, and for financial reasons, most of the utilities are in my name. Because of this, we were initially denied. Despite the fact that we provided proof of cohabitation for the past decade! I offered a copy of the certificate we received at our committment ceremony from 1999, but of course, that’s not a “legal document”!!

We also are each other’s beneficiary on out life insurance policies and retirement plans – through the same employer! We were listed as each other’s emergency contact, and our paychecks were direct deposited into the same checking account every payday! After countless phone calls, faxes, copies of documents, & finally having to pay a notary to verify that we were sending them true & accurate documents, they finally approved me as a dependent. But, not before numerous phone calls during which I was so frustrated I frequently ended up in tears!

Then, as if that wasn’t enough, we discovered that this process would repeat on a yearly basis! When I questioned HR reps on their policies, I was told that heterosexual couples are required to do NONE of this! They don’t even have to provide a copy of their marriage certificate! All they have to do is fill out a form & send it in, that’s it!

I voiced my frustrations on multiple occasions, but I’m sure that my concerns fell on deaf ears! I explained to every person I spoke with just how discriminatory their processes are, but as of now, none of them have changed! So to those of you who’ve not experienced this, or are in heterosexual relationships – I caution you, just because your employer tells you that they offer Same Sex Partner Benefits, it does NOT mean that you will not be discriminated against!

I give a damn because I don’t want others to have to go through the hell my partner and I endured just to get health insurance, when we’ve been together longer than most straight couples we know! If we could be legally married, they wouldn’t be able to treat us this way!

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My Life, My Partner…Her Health…

Apr 22nd, 2010 03:30 AM By Ann

I am gay, in my late 40’s, and in love with the most beautiful, generous, caring woman that I have ever met. We have been together for about 1 1/2 years now, and know (after both having a rough past with relationships) that we found each other for a reason.

I am fortunate to work for Philips which is a company that recognizes “same-sex partners” or “significant others.” My girlfriend suffers from a multitude of illnesses that keep her from working.

She had been accepted into the Olympic swim team when she was a passenger of an almost fatal car accident. This was just the beginning of an onslaught of surgeries and debilitating illnesses. Unfortunately, she also has inherited her mothers side of breast cancer.

We are currently waiting on results of the most recent mammogram. I know how fortunate I am to work for a corporation that does provide for “US”. This is an example of one large company accepting and caring, others need to follow their lead!!!

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President Obama Gives a Damn about Hospital Visitation

Apr 16th, 2010 10:15 AM By

While there is still so much that needs to be done to ensure that gay couples are treated equally in this country, yesterday a important step in the right direction was made by President Obama.

According to the New York Times:

“President Obama on Thursday ordered his health secretary to issue new rules aimed at granting hospital visiting rights to same-sex partners.

“The White House announced the rule changes, which will also make it easier for gay men and lesbians to make medical decisions on behalf of their partners, in a memorandum released Thursday night. In it, the president said the new rules would affect any hospital that participates in Medicare or Medicaid, the government programs to cover the elderly and the poor.

“’Every day, all across America, patients are denied the kindness and caring of a loved one at their sides,’ Mr. Obama said in the memorandum, adding that the rules could also help widows and widowers who rely on friends and members of religious orders who care for one another. But he says gay men and lesbians are ‘uniquely affected’ because they are often barred from visiting partners with whom they have spent decades.”

Read the full New York Times article >>

Watch CNN’s Anderson Cooper discuss these new rules with the woman who inspired them:

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  • Read the responses to these new rules from some of our non-profit partners: HRC | Freedom to Marry
  • Learn more about Marriage and Health Care and how you can get involved in our Damn Issues section.

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Gay Patients

Apr 12th, 2010 11:46 PM By Brittney

I am a nurse in an Intensive Care Unit and it hurts my heart when sometimes I have a patient who is gay and others around me are not accepting of this. Co-workers may snicker and say things like – “Oh, that’s his boyfriend?!” I live in a very progressive city, Austin, TX, and still the idea of a man sitting at the bedside of his dying lover is something to laugh about.

Open your eyes people…love is love.

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Denied Hospital Visitation

Apr 12th, 2010 04:13 PM By

As reported by San Diego Gay & Lesbian News:

“Jackson Memorial Hospital may be ranked among “America’s Best Hospitals,” but it has a spotty track record in dealing with lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender issues.

“While a lesbian was dying in the hospital, hospital officials denied her partner visitation rights. The decision drew rebuke from gay rights advocates and others concerned about the hospital’s visitation policy.

“Today, Lambda Legal, its coalition partners, and officials from Jackson Health System (JHS) released a statement announcing the hospital’s improved policies that are more responsive to the needs of the LGBT community. Lamba Legal noted that the new policies still do not provide as much protection as may be needed in critical situations.

“Lambda Legal urged Jackson Memorial Hospital to enact a full grievance procedure and also to issue an apology to the Langbehn-Pond family.

“‘Lambda Legal applauds Jackson Memorial’s work with the coalition to review and expand policies and training materials to help address the needs of same-sex couples and their families, but we urge the hospital to finish the job,’ said Beth Littrell, senior staff attorney in Lambda Legal’s Southern Regional Office in Atlanta, who was lead counsel on Langbehn v. Jackson Memorial.

“‘The hospital should issue an official apology to the Langbehn-Pond family and JHS should have a grievance procedure in the case of visitation denial that can be acted on quickly in an emergency situation,’ she said.

“‘Jackson Memorial Hospital should have been able to provide immediate resources to Janice Langbehn when she wasn’t allowed to be with her partner Lisa hour after hour as she lay dying in the hospital. We don’t want the Langbehn-Pond nightmare to happen to another family.’

“Last September, the court rejected Lambda Legal’s lawsuit filed against Jackson Memorial Hospital on behalf of Janice Langbehn, ruling that no law required the hospital to allow her and their three children to see her partner, Lisa Pond. Langbehn and the children were kept apart from Pond by hospital staff for eight hours as Pond slipped into a coma and died.

Read the full San Diego Gay & Lesbian News article >>

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  • Learn more about Health Care and ways you can help in the Damn Issues section.

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My Daughters

Mar 28th, 2010 10:11 AM By Nancy

I give a DAMN about equality… ONE of my daughters is gay…

I have raised three daughters. I’ve taught them the fundamentals of life and living in this world, then went beyond this to teach tolerance, equality, independence, faith, compassion and love.

What a joy to watch three beautiful young children grow into the adults they now are! What a joy to nurture each as individuals while treating them equally. What a joy to teach them to be anything they wanted to be. What a joy to watch them learn to love and develop healthy relationships. What a joy to witness them embracing each day.

Each day brings new discoveries for all three. Along the way, my youngest daughter discovered her sexuality as a lesbian. Within our family, this discovery was recognized and acknowledged. We did not judge, and our family still lives with the values of respect and equality that we’ve always lived by.

But for me, the need for social equality outside of our family became more important than ever! I was to send my youngest daughter into the world–and she would learn that the teachings and equality in our home would not necessarily follow her.

I have raised three daughters… and as individual as they are, now they are not treated equally.

TWO of my daughters can…

  • Walk safely down any street holding hands with their significant others
  • Practice careers without fear of discrimination
  • Marry legally (if they choose) in a courtroom – OR – in a religious environment of their choosing
  • Have an open relationship with a member of our armed forces
  • Practice their religious upbringing openly–not questioning their faith because of a lack of tolerance
  • Reap the benefits of “joint” tax returns, health insurance, marriage law…

The list goes on and on.

I hope that someday, this will change to: “All THREE of my daughters can…”

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