Salvation Army Repeals Health Benefits for Domestic Partners
National Salvation Army leaders have rescinded an order issued by regional officials less than two weeks ago that would have extended health benefits to domestic partners of employees in 13 western states, the AP/Contra Costa Times reports. The evangelical Christian organization, which had been "derided" by Christian pro-family groups for its decision, has "changed course" and will only offer benefits to married couples and their dependent children. In October, national Salvation Army commissioners decided to allow the organization's four U.S. territories to develop separate health care policies. Leaders of the Western Territory -- which includes Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, New Mexico, Nevada, Oregon, Utah, Washington and Wyoming -- announced Nov. 1 that they would extend health benefits to adult members of an employee's household, including domestic partners. However, the commissioners on Monday decided to return control of health care policy to the national level, thereby repealing the Western Territory's decision. The decision to expand benefits to domestic partners had "shocked" a number of evangelical Christian organizations, and the reversal of the policy has "shocked" gay-rights groups who favor benefits for domestic partners, the AP/Times reports (Valles, AP/Contra Costa Times, 11/14). According to the Newhouse News Service/Newark Star-Ledger, Western Territory officials decided to extend health benefits to domestic partners in part to meet a provision in San Francisco's 1996 Equal Benefits Ordinance that requires organizations that contract with the city to provide equal benefits to same-sex and married couples. The Salvation Army's "resist[ance]" to offering same-sex benefits has cost it millions of dollars in contracts with the city, including $3.5 million in 1998 (O'Keefe, Newhouse News Service/Newark Star-Ledger, 11/14).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.