Procter & Gamble Adopts Same Sex Domestic Partnership Benefits
(CNSNews.com) - Procter and Gamble (P&G) has joined a growing list of large American corporations offering domestic partnership benefits to homosexual employees.
In fact, according to the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), one of the nation's largest homosexual activist organizations, nearly 150 companies listed on the Fortune 500 now offer domestic partnership benefits, even though the actual number of workers looking to receive the benefits for their domestic partners is small.
The conservative group, Concerned Women for America (CWA) argues that by offering such benefits, corporations are acting "politically correct," even if it means "marriage is cheapened" in the process. The CWA also disputes assertions by the HRC that the cost of offering domestic partnership benefits is low.
P&G said it "will broaden the eligibility requirements for dependents to include domestic partners and their children" beginning January 1, 2001. The company said extending the benefits to homosexual partners is a logical expansion of its earlier decision to provide benefits beyond an employee's spouse and immediate family.
"Back in 1999, we broadened coverage to a much larger population of employees and ... household dependents," P&G spokeswoman Linda Ulrey said. That decision extended coverage to "family members like grandparents, grandchildren," and other relatives.
"We have done what we can to provide benefits that will help our employees in need, and so our recent expansion or step change is really in keeping with that expansion," Ulrey said.
P&G maintains the extension of benefits to its homosexual employees was not connected with any sort of political correctness or pressure from homosexual lobbyists. She claims P&G chose to extend the benefits for humanitarian reasons.
"Employees, be they in traditional or nontraditional relationships, have very many of the same needs and concerns, and the company's belief is that as a result they should have access to P&G benefits to address those needs," she said.
Ulrey also said P&G expects the costs incurred from offering domestic partnership benefits to be minimal.
"We expect the cost impact of the new change to be too small to measure," she said.
The HRC also claims the extension of domestic partnership benefits to homosexual employees is of nominal cost to employers.
"One common argument employers have raised against extending domestic partner benefits has been cost," an HRC statement said. "In fact, nearly two decades of employer experience in offering domestic partner health benefits have proven that the overall cost is quite low. Numerous empirical studies, as well as the testimonials of human resource professionals who have implemented domestic partner benefits programs, have shown this to be the case."
The HRC says domestic partnership benefits for homosexual employees are inexpensive because only a small number of employees end up enrolling in the plans.
It cites a 1997 Hewitt Associates survey that said, "The impact on these companies' costs has been minimal, with the addition of domestic partners, regardless of whether coverage is extended to same-sex or opposite-sex domestic partners."
In August of this year, the HRC reportedly claimed that 145 Fortune 500 companies held domestic partnership policies for their homosexual employees.
The Society of Human Resource Management (SHRM), the nation's largest society for human resource professionals, also said its data shows that extending domestic partnership benefits to homosexuals has a minimal effect on employer health care costs.
SHRM spokesman Frank Scanlan said the group's 1997 human resources survey showed that initial concerns about increased health care costs arising from same sex benefits proved to be untrue.
Robert Knight, Director of Concerned Women for America's Culture and Family Institute, argues that offering domestic partnership benefits for homosexuals is costly.
"It will in fact add costs because homosexual men are far more prone to AIDS and many other diseases," Knight said, adding that the increased risk will translate into increased health insurance costs for employers.
"For them to say that they are not taking on any costs is not true," he said.
Knight said he is also angered by the social message corporate America is sending.
"The biggest cost is to young people who are being told by corporate America that marriage no longer matters, or giving it a special status and protecting it," Knight said. "Marriage is cheapened [by domestic partnership benefits] ... and we cheapen it at our own peril.
"Corporate America is acting recklessly in trying to appease a pampered vocal pressure group," he asserted. "A tiny number of people take advantage of this policy. It is a corporation's way of being politically correct and appearing to be progressive."