Domestic Partner Benefits Boom

October 3, 2001 ( - The number of employers offering health-care benefits to their employees' unmarried domestic partners increased by 20% in the last year and 50% in the past two years, according to a study.

The Human Rights Campaign Foundation, a gay and lesbian advocacy group that conducted the study, said that as of August, 4,284 companies, colleges, universities and state and local governments were offering or had announced that they would offer health insurance coverage for the “domestic partners” of their employees.

That was up from 3,572 employers a year earlier and 2,856 two years earlier, according to the foundation.


Domestic partners are live-in companions of employees who are given the same level of eligibility for health coverage as the spouses of married workers at these employers.

In general, about two-thirds of employers who offer domestic partner health insurance benefits, offer them to both same-sex and opposite-sex partners, the study said.

Of the remaining one-third, a huge majority offer benefits only to same-sex partners under the rationale that gay couples generally do not have the option of marrying as heterosexual couples do, according to the foundation.

Larger employers were most likely to offer benefits to domestic partners, the report said. In fact, among Fortune 500 companies, 29% offered domestic partner benefits, up from 12% three previously, while among the top 50, slightly more than half offered such benefits.