Gay Rights Group Proclaims Workplace Milestone

July 5, 2006 ( - For the first time, the majority of Fortune 500 companies offer domestic partner health insurance benefits, according to the latest survey by a national gay rights lobbying group.

The Human Rights Campaign Foundation said in a news release that as of June 1, 2006 , 253 (51%) of the 2006 Fortune 500 companies provided benefits to employees’ same-sex domestic partners. E ighty-six percent of Fortune 500 companies also include sexual orientation in their non-discrimination policy and 10 times the number of Fortune companies cover gender identity today than did so five years ago, according to the report.

“While protections for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender Americans are stalled in Congress, corporate America continues to surge ahead. This isn’t a Democratic or a Republican issue. It’s an issue of basic fairness and good business,” said Human Rights Campaign President Joe Solmonese, in the news release. “As ‘The State of the Workplace’ shows, an investment in equal benefits is minor to the employer but priceless to employees. By removing barriers to employee success, corporate America is ultimately removing barriers to the success of companies across the nation.”

There have also been wins for the gay rights community in anti-discrimination and benefits policies at the state and local levels. In 2005, Montana became the 13th state to extend domestic partner benefits to state employees. Sixteen local municipalities joined the state in extending domestic partner benefits during the report’s period.

As of June 1, 2006, 201 cities and counties granted equal benefits to employees’ partners, according to the report.

The full report is here .