Slowly but inexorably equality is coming to same-sex couples in the workplace, especially in the realm of employer-provided benefits. The latest example came Thursday, when U.S. District Court Judge Claudia Wilken ordered California’s massive state pension fund–CALPERS–to offer its long-term care insurance to same-sex spouses and partners.
Some 160,000 workers have purchased long-term care insurance through CALPERS. The coverage pays for stays in nursing homes or assisted living centers.
CALPERS had extened most benefits to same-sex couples, but said its hands were tied on the question of long-term care because of the federal Defense of Marriage Act. That law–which the Obama Administration says it will no longer defend–defines marriage as between a man and a woman.
CALPERS feared it would lose its tax-exempt status if it also extended long-term care benefits to same-sex partners.
However, Judge Wilkens struck down a portion of DOMA, clearing the way for CALPERS to make long-term care benefits available to its employees irrespective of whether they are in different or same-sex relationships.