DOMESTIC PARTNERS: Heterosexual Couples Denied Benefits
A Manhattan federal judge yesterday ruled in favor of a company that extended health benefits to homosexual partners while denying them to unmarried heterosexual couples, the New York Post reports. Paul Foray, an employer of NYNEX, now merged with Bell Atlantic, sued the company in May 1998, alleging that the company's denial of benefits to his live-in girlfriend was rooted in sex discrimination. However, Judge Robert Patterson ruled that homosexual couples are currently unable to obtain partner benefits because they are barred from marriage, while heterosexual couples are not, adding that the company's policy "does not discriminate between similarly situated men and women." Bell Atlantic spokesperson Steve Marcus said, "It upholds what we have contended all along -- that Bell Atlantic's policy on domestic-partner health care benefits complies with all applicable laws and regulations." However, the plaintiff's girlfriend, Jeanine Muntzner, said, "We have been willing to sign the same affidavit and assume the same obligations that Bell Atlantic requires of same-sex partners, but all the company focused on was the fact that we were opposite-sex partners." Foray has vowed to appeal the ruling (Guart, 6/9).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.