Wal-Mart: The New Gay Rights Champion?
Marking a major victory for affected Wal-Mart Stores (NYSE:WMT) employees as well many others in the nation, the world’s largest retailer announced Tuesday that it will offer health insurance benefits to domestic partners of its U.S. employees starting next year, joining 62 percent of the Fortune 500 companies that already offer health benefits for domestic partners. Wal-Mart’s decision reflects the end to a major holdout which many believe will convince other resistant companies to do the same.
According to Reuters, the Bentonville, Arkansas-based company is the nation’s single biggest employer outside of the federal government — therefore, its most recent decision will not only affect many of its 1.3 U.S. million employees, but will also mean big things for LGBT rights activists and also many other full-time workers’ spouses and domesic partners who are still without coverage.
Although the number of Fortune 500 companies offering health-care benefits to same-sex partners have risen dramatically within the last ten years, many employees of major companies are still without coverage due to their employers’ refusal to recognize their relationships.