This week, we asked readers for their “take” on domestic partner benefits.
Opinions were, for the most part, relatively strong – and divided. When all was said and done, however, more than 45% of this week’s respondents said they thought such benefits were “a bad idea.” In fact, a sizeable number went so far as to say it was a “very bad” idea. Those opposed were primarily concerned about the costs, morality, and the complications associated with verifying the legitimacy of such arrangements.
On the other side of the issue, nearly 31% said that offering those benefits was “the right thing to do,” more than 8% said it was the right thing to do “if the relationship was recognized by state law,” and roughly 10% were okay with those benefits for same-s*x only partners – assuming that hetero couples could choose to get married if they wanted to.
And even though 4% said they weren’t sure – and 1% opted for “other” – net/net, it looks like the respondents to this week’s survey are pretty nearly split on the issue; no wonder it remains controversial.
The Verbatims this week were particularly interesting – and some were as potentially controversial as the issue itself. Here’s a sampling:
“I think they are the right thing to do from a competitive standpoint. Employers offer benefits to attract and retain employees. For at least some of the employees now able to obtain these benefits, this is an important piece of their employment package. Maintaining focus on the purpose of employee benefits, to meet employees’ needs, steps away from all the opinions around the subject and puts the focus on the benefit issue.”
“That distinction (that marriage is a legal contract) is the basis for reconciling the view that a same-s*x marriage is a legitimate legal arrangement, with rights and responsibilities, and the view that that very same arrangement is religiously unacceptable. In other words, you don’t have to agree with it morally to accept it as law (see also, abortion, “justifiable” homicide, and a host of other examples).”
“Thanks for asking today’s survey question. As a gay man and CFO of my company, I’m proud that our organization was one of the first to provide domestic partner benefits. (We offer the benefits to both same-s*x and opposite-s*x partners.) In my viewpoint (rose-colored as it may be), it is the right thing to do for those individuals meeting the domestic partner criteria. In my case, my partner and I have been in a committed relationship for more than 16 years. While he has his own employer-provided benefits (as is often the case), it’s great to know that should something happen, my company supports me in the whole-hearted fulfillment of my life goals … not just in what I can do to help the bottom line between 8AM & 5PM.”
“I vote for (d) for the reason you cite: If the marriage option is available to receive the benefit by law, you shouldn’t be able to use the benefit before then. However I do think that the waiting period that some companies use before eligibility for qualified domestic partners is too short – our company policy is twelve months in the same residence before eligibility. I do think that whether it’s same-s*x or traditional, this benefit is ripe for abuse and hard to enforce without infringing on people’s privacy.”
“I’d say “c.” There is no such thing in the sight of God as marriage between two people of the same gender. If a man and woman want to live together and not make the commitment to marry, they shouldn’t receive the benefit.”
“The easy answer to this one is only if they get married. Different s*x domestic partners do not get benefits unless they are married. Same-s*x domestic partners should also not get benefits unless they are married. This would make it the same for everybody.”
“Personally, I really don’t care how two mature, consenting adults (same or opposite s*x) choose to live, but I think that we cross the line, and open a Pandora’s box, if we remove marriage from the benefits equation, and expect companies to decide who does and does not qualify as a domestic partner. If a couple wants the benefit of marriage – get married. If marriage is not allowed, they should lobby to change the laws, and the views of the society that creates them.”
“We do not offer domestic partner benefits and will not unless mandated by law. However, I won’t be surprised to see it mandated nationwide at some point. I also won’t be surprised if someday, prostitution and ‘recreational drug use’ are legalized throughout the country. Wouldn’t these be great ways to increase tax revenue :-)”
“The focus should be on making health insurance benefits available to everyone. This issue has been and continues to be one of America’s most concerning. Whether or not people are married, single, heteros*xual, same-s*x partners, or common law partners is ancillary to what the objective should be … health-care benefits available to all.”
“The budget for benefits is pushed to the limit in most organizations, especially the smaller businesses, and this would just put additional strain on those organizations. Soon, we won’t have to worry about who is covered on benefits; we will all be without!!”
“(f) I’d rather not get into it. Our company does not offer domestic partner benefits. The simpler we can keep the administration of our systems, the easier to administer and the less personal we have to get.”
“We’ve had domestic partner benefits (same and opposite) for years as the ‘right thing to do.’ (Now, the fact that the CEO’s assistant had a same-s*x domestic partner probably accelerated this coverage by a couple years. Also one of the key benefits managers had an opposite-s*x one which probably ‘helped’ the decision on scope of coverage.)”
But this week’s EDITOR’S CHOICE goes to the reader who noted, “My company does offer domestic partner benefits for most benefits (but, interestingly, the pension plan is still spouse only). It is interesting that we do offer them, however, because less than ten years ago, in response to an employee inquiry, the executive director said they would be added ‘only over my dead body.’ (As recently as yesterday afternoon, he still appeared to be pretty lively.)”
(c) A bad idea. Our company is very traditional, moral and conservative (thank goodness). If the couple is opposite sex, get married. If they are same sex, refer them to a Christian counselor. What has happened to moral values?
My vote on the survey would be c) a VERY bad idea. I was glad to see today that President Bush has the Government lawyers working on a marriage law. If we allow the softening of the institution of marriage to become nothing more than a DOMESTIC relationship what then sets the definition of domestic relationship - could brothers and sisters claim domestic relationship status, cousins, parents and children? Where does the insanity stop?
(b) Providing domestic partner benefits is the right thing to do, if the relationship has a legally recognized basis comparable to marriage. Marriage, after all, is always a legal contract whose provisions must be dealt with through the courts, although only sometimes is it a religiously recognized union, which may or may not be dissoluble in the eyes of the religious institution, for example.
That distinction is the basis for reconciling the view that a same-sex marriage is a legitimate legal arrangement, with rights and responsibilities, and the view that that very same arrangement is religiously unacceptable. In other words, you don't have to agree with it morally to accept it as law (see also, abortion, "justifiable" homicide, and a host of other examples).
SURVEY SAYS: [c] a bad idea. Remember Sen. Patrick Moynahan's (sp?) "The Dumbing Down of America"? Making same s*x relationships legal and allowing them the same accompanying legal benefits that are currently the privilege of a married man and woman only would be disastrous to what moral fiber remains in this country. Doing so should be appropriately referred to as "The Dumbing Down of Marriage and Morality in America: Letting Chaos Enter In".
I'm leaning towards (c) bad idea, mainly because of the risk of every Tom, D*ck (no pun intended), and Harry that purports to have a "relationship" (here today gone tomorrow) will be able to claim benefits thereby further straining resources, resulting in astronomical fees, cut services, etc. for those legitimately in a legal relationship.
I did not say (b) because the criteria should be more than just state recognition. If domestic benefits were provided, the proof of such relationships should be very rigorous - for the trigger to make this legit is not only the marriage or legal aspect but whether the two people are bound (ownership of assets, custody of children, risk of alimony for termination, many others) by more permanent or long-term "relationships"
This may be a little late, but us folks in California maybe need a little more time -
I think I have to answer (e), only because none of the others really fit. The corporation I work for does extend benefits to partners (health including dental, and dependent life insurance) and I have no objection to this. The employee, and partner, are in fact paying all or a substantial part of the premium for those benefits, and on an after-tax basis, too. However, on a more global basis - I hear a cry for "rights and privileges" of legally recognized marriage, but I don't hear anything about the responsibilities, legal, financial, and moral. Breaking a domestic partner relationship is as simple and saying it. I would be a lot more accepting of the concept it I heard someone openly seeking those responsibilities.
Domestic Partner benefits: We've offered for many years now. Still not sure it is the best thing to do for society as a whole but we believe it is "fair." I would go for the D to answer the question. If a heterosexual couple doesn't want to get married, then they don't get the benefits of the union. We've taken a strong stand against this and have received some negative feedback but we've held our ground. Why can't these folks grow up and act like adults instead of whining teenagers?!
(c) Wrong thing to do. Isn't this going back to common law marriage that has been eliminated in many states? As a benefit administrator, how do you define what a domestic partner is? Is it someone you live with for so many years? Declare at City Hall on some register? Do you get some type of legal paperwork that two people are domestic partners? Or just the employee's word. Can you even imagine the nightmare for group insurance benefits this will cause as these relationships break apart and come together. At least w/marriage there is a legal act (same w/divorce) with documentation that can be relied upon for verification. I would rather see same sex marriages approved before domestic partners.
I am opposed to offering domestic partner benefits for both personal and professional reasons. On a personal level, I am morally opposed to homosexuality. It is the lifestyle, not the individuals who choose it, that I cannot support. Accordingly, I oppose homosexual marriage or civil unions. On the professional level, I do not support offering benefits to homosexual domestic partners for the same reason I do not support offering benefits to opposite sex domestic partners. There is
no legal relationship between the individuals, which would make plan administration very difficult in terms of defining eligibility for benefits. The close monitoring of eligibility is critical at a time
when rising plan costs, particularly for health insurance, require that no one be allowed on the plan that doesn't meet the eligibility criteria.
Despite my opposition to domestic partner benefits, I do believe that they will be mandated by the government within the next 10 yearssooner if the Democrats regain control of Congress and the White House.
Thanks for asking this very important question.
My PERSONAL answer to your survey today is: A - the right thing to do. However, I have been involved with many, MANY companies and plan sponsors who will not recognize same s*x partners and/or domestic partners, especially since there is no law to forcing them.
I think it is a wave of the future, and I think we will see this recognition become more common place as time goes on.
Where I currently work (I recently received my first promotion - not bad after only 8 months!), we are a very small compnay (15 people) and have no need to recognize domestic partnerships at this time. Many of our clients do allow domestic partners, however....both same s*x and opposite s*x.
I'll be interested to see the results of this survey!!!
I think they are the right thing to do from a competitive standpoint. Employers offer benefits to attract and retain employees. For at least some of the employees now able to obtain these benefits, this is an important piece of their employment package. Maintaining focus on the purpose of employee benefits to meet employees' needs, steps away from all the opinions around the subject and puts the focus on the benefit issue.
To the second part of the question, there are many reasons why people who legally can get married do not. Again, maintaining focus on the purpose of benefits to attract and retain and understanding that employee's perceive a need for these benefits then it is important to offer them.
Yes, we offer domestic partner benefits of both kinds.
(e) Not sure.
Where is the supporting legal system for the multitude of issues that will arise from the widening concept of unions? What happens when one domestic partner abandons the other who was relying on the leaving partner's health benefits? Do they turn around and say there was no state recognized marriage so no liability or does the whole thing wind up in court in a civil suit to dissolve something that doesn't legally exist? How will spousal consent on pensions, 401k's etc. be defined? Which domestic partner inherits? How much time has to pass before someone is a domestic partner?
This whole issue should be a bonanza for lawyers who specialized in divorce. For in this country what gets joined together doesn't often stay together. Sort of the Lawyer's Old Age and Pension Relief Act.
Yes, they are the right thing to do. We are a small company and the only thing we have is a retirement plan so we do not offer it but if we did have health insurance available we would offer it.
Thanks for asking today's survey question. As a gay man and CFO of my company, I'm proud that our organization was one of the first to provide domestic partner benefits. (We offer the benefits to both same-sex and opposite sex partners.) In my viewpoint (rose-colored as it may be), it is the right thing to do for those individuals meeting the domestic partner criteria. In my case, my partner and I have been in a committed relationship for more than 16 years. While he has his own employer-provided benefits (as is often the case), it's great to know that should something happen, my company supports me in the whole-hearted fulfillment of my life goals . . . not just in what I can do to help the bottom line between 8AM & 5PM.
(f) I'd rather not get into it. Our company does not offer domestic partner benefits. The simpler we can keep the administration of our systems, the easier to administer and the less personal we have to get.
a) the right thing to do
At the risk of sounding sappy, in this world if you find someone you care enough about to be in a committed relationship, you should be able to provide for them as a family member!
MY JOB ISN'T TO MAKE JUDGEMENTS..... IT IS TO PROVIDE BENEFITS. WE CURRENTLY OFFER "DOMESTIC PARTNER" INSURANCE AND HAVE FOR 7 YEARS. WE ALLOW THE INSURER TO DEFINE WHAT CONSTITUTES A DOMESTIC PARTNER.
My choice is D. I agree that domestic partner benefits are ok for same sex partners only, as long as the relationship can be demonstrated to be a long-term, committed one.
My company does currently offer benefits for same-sex only domestic partners.
Re domestic partner benefits:
I vote for (d) for the reason you cite: if the marriage option is available to receive the benefit by law, you shouldn't be able to use the benefit before then. However I do think that the waiting period that some companies use before eligibility for qualified domestic partners is too short - our company policy is twelve months in the same residence before eligibility. I do think that whether it's same sex or traditional, this benefit is ripe for abuse and hard to enforce without infringing on people's privacy.
I'd say "c". There is no such thing in the sight of God as marriage between two people of the same gender. If a man and woman want to live together and not make the commitment to marry, they shouldn't receive the benefit.
We do not offer domestic partner benefits and will not unless mandated by law. However, I won't be surprised to see it mandated nation wide at some point. I also won't be surprised if someday, prostitution and "recreational drug use" are legalized throughout the country. Wouldn't these be great ways to increase tax revenue 🙂
(c) a very bad idea. Why should something become legal when the majority of people are opposed to it, as noted in an article above the survey question?
Being a raving heterosexual myself, it would seem unfair to accord the same benefits to domestic partners as to married ones; isn't the very nature of homos*xuality to change partners often? However, looking at the divorce rate among hetero's would nullify that argument. (I have a gay cousin (in her 80's) who had the same partner for over 50 years until said partner died.) My company does not provide benefits for domestic partners, and it is unlikely (being of a conservative bent) that it ever will. However, if a hetero or homo couple can prove that they are legally committed to each other (and I don't have an answer as to how they would do that) then give them benefits. (Before I get hate mail regarding the "change partners often" line, I was just echoing other people's opinions that I hear often.)
It is absolutely the right thing to do. Both my current company (Fortune 500) and my previous company offer domestic partner benefits to both same sex and opposite sex, and have done so for at least 4 years.
Answer [c]. Always the wrong thing to do.
The central issue is that the family is the building block of society, and marriage is the foundation of the family. To damage, or demote, the family as an institution or marriage as a relationship is to ignore the foundation is essential to the continuation of our society. It also ignores past history, where ancient societies are marked by decline when they become s*xually bankrupt.
But in the short run, even the discussion of domestic partner benefits does harm to our children, who generally do not understand 1% of this issue. When they hear this discussion, without hearing support for the current status, they wonder about their own safety and security, wonder about the stability of their own home.
Such discussion completely ignores the reason that we have "marriage benefits" in the first place, which is to honor the family (see above) and to protect children. When seen in the light of history, there is no reason to subsidize deviations.
We've had domestic partner benefits (same and opposite) for years as the "right thing to do". ( Now, the fact that the CEO's assistant had a same s*x domestic partner probably accelerated this coverage by a couple years. Also one of the key benefits managers had an opposite s*x one which probably "helped" the decision on scope of coverage.)
c) It is a bad idea and just wrong. It is just one more example of the decline in morals our country has experienced. A society without morals will fail.
This is where it really gets hairy. Mark me down for the group that's not sure. I could argue both sides of the issue equally well. My basic religious and moral training tell me same sex and unmarried unions are wrong. Yet, when I think about it and about what's fair, I can make a case for equal treatment.
In the end, the issue will be decided by the will of the majority and a significant (and perhaps vocal) minority will be left feeling there's been a huge error made. Kinda reminds me of the old joke that a camel is nothing more than a horse built by a committee.
Thanks for asking my opinion.
I'm in favor of offering domestic partner benefits to both same sex and opposite sex domestic partners. Our health care delivery system is so screwed up that it will take more than this to wreck it or fix it. The bottom line is people need health care and in this country the most easily available way to get it is through employer sponsored group plans. As long as that is true, it should be made available to as many people as possible. We all wind up paying for the uninsured in one way or another anyway. Incidentally, our company does not currently offer domestic partner benefits; but is considering.
Regarding Domestic Partner benefits, I believe it is the right thing to do, if the relationship is recognized by state law for same sex couples or heterosexual couples. Our company does not recognize domestic partners at this time.
However, I also believe if each person works, it is the responsibility of each person's employer to provide benefits to its employee. I am seriously looking at implementing a provision in our benefits that states if an employee's spouse (or down the road--domestic partner) has insurance available to him/her with his/her employer, he/she will not be eligible to enroll in our company's benefits. Real big cost savings!
Answer c, a VERY bad idea - Our law makers need to read their Bibles. What other acts of perversion can we expect to be legalized next???
Domestic Partners is a life style choice, and if that is the life style someone chooses, I think they should have the same rights as everyone else. If that includes benefits, then I think it is the right thing to do. I do not think it should matter whether same sex or different sex. We need to treat EVERYONE equally. My company provides domestic partner benefits based on certain criteria.
Overage 18 Not married to anyone else Co-Habitat and depend on each other's support financially and otherwise for at least 6 months.
Thanks for giving us the opportunity to voice our opinions as HR professionals.
a) the right thing to do
And yes, we offer domestic partner coverage, regardless of sex, to all employees. However, they are taxed on the benefits.
We do not offer domestic partner benefit - yet. I have proposed that we begin offering in 2004.
I think domestic partner benefits are the right thing to do regardless of the gender makeup of the couple. Families come in all shapes and sizes these days, and we need to respect that diversity.
My company has offered domestic partner benefits for 9 years, and 3 years ago extended the coverage to the children of the partner, even when they have no relationship to the employee.
a.There are many partners who are not married (same s*x or not) who could use this benefit. This creates equality. But the costs are definitely unknown
I'm sure the answer is "C." Domestic partner benefits . . . definitely a bad idea; and that's whether it's heterosexual couples or homosexuals. Further, government--local, state, or federal--should not be in the business of condoning such behavior. This firm does not offer domestic partner benefits.
The focus should be on making health insurance benefits available to everyone. This issue has been and continues to be one of America's most concerning. Whether or not people are married, single, heteros*xual, same s*x partners or common law partners is ancillary to what the objective should be . . . health care benefits available to all.
I believe it is (a) the right thing to do, and our company does offer domestic partner benefits. I think that the various legal experts are missing the big question, even when they finally come out with the right decision. People object to same sex unions, etc. on the grounds of the State's right to legislate morality, but this issue is not a question of morality, since morality implies choice of bad over good, and sexual orientation is not a choice. The legal restrictions and barriers on homosexuals is more similar to limiting rights and privileges to people who are left-handed. I doubt that the small percentage of left-handers chose to be left-handed, and wouldn't it be absurd to say they didn't have the right to do the same things as the majority right-handers?
(c) a bad idea, My background is financial, and I have been accused of being quite the tightwad. So my thinking is it is a stupid thing for companies to do because it increases costs. In these days of rampant insurance, and other benefit costs it seems like one easy way to keep costs slightly lower. I won't address the moral issues, that is a whole other can of worms.
And no my company does not offer domestic partner benefits.
In response to your survey I say (C) - a BAD idea. It is morally wrong for same-sex unions and providing benefits, while being nice, could lead to a secular legitimization of these unions. This would lead to a further corruption of the morals of our already weakening society.
. I have to look at this from a moral standpoint and vote (c) a bad idea. I believe in same sex marriage only. Benefits outside of this are going to raise a lot of questions about where to draw the line. Would room mates qualify even if it isn't a sexual thing? What about people that would just live together for the benefits they could get? I could see where this could get to be a big financial burden for employers that are already struggling with employee benefits and having to shift more of the burden to employees or drop some benefits completely. It could also become a major legal problem in how to identify eligible living arrangements.
It's just (c) a bad idea. All the things gay's carp about like hospital visitation can be addressed without changing definitions institutions have had for thousands of years.
The gay s*x underage club called Harvey Milk High School in NY is also a bad idea. Now a group of confused kids, underage for the activity they're being recruited to engage in will use tax dollars to assure they will be branded with a specific title for life. Stunning use of tax dollars from a city in financial trouble. As soon as the first graduates hit the street we can expect another tax funded program to help them again because only a very narrow sector of society is interested in hearing from them.
Personally I'm waiting for the first wack-job to push the pet insurance one step further by claiming her dog provided more support and comfort than her husband ever did. As such it's simply abject discrimination that she can't marry her faithful pet and give it the same status under law her unsupportive husband enjoyed. People tell me this POV is kooky. Trust me the case is on it's way and attorney's with wallets freshly filled with "Big Fat" dollars from the McDonald's and Baskin's trials will take the case. A few unenlightened and under-sophisticated will snicker at first but by the time Chelsea Clinton runs for office the idea of Human-Pet marriage will be just another wonderful exercise in tolerance.
Beam me up Scotty!
(A) I think that it is the right thing to do (offer benefits to same s*x partners)
I would say 'if recognized by the respective state', but since many states to do recognize a legal bond in same s*x marriages, there would be little benefit to using that stipulation.
Does our firm offer benefits to same s*x partners? Not applicable. We are a two person firm.
My company does offer domestic partner benefits for most benefits (but interestingly the pension plan is still spouse only). It is interesting that we do offer them , however, because less than ten years ago, in response to an employee inquiry, the executive director said they would be added "only over my dead body." (As recently as yesterday afternoon, he still appeared to be pretty lively.)
I personally am opposed to domestic partner benefits, but being a firm believer in the idea that there is such a thing as natural law, I'm opposed to a great many things that are being done in our country today in the name of "social progress". I think we will live to regret a great deal of that "progress".
extra: my current firm does not offer domestic partner benefits, but my former firm did. If there was any call for it here, I would be willing to put them in place here as well.
In response to your poll question, I must chime in ...
(A) ... As I see it, telling two men or two women that they cannot get married or enjoy the same benefits as a heterosexual married couple harkens back to the day when a black man and a white woman were not allowed to marry and therefore not enjoy the benefits that come out of a state-recognized union. It is just plain wrong. And if it takes the state too long to figure it out, the company can make that decision on their own!
Re: your question on Domestic Partner benefits - -
First, they are the right thing to do. For so long, gay folks got slammed for not staying in long-term committed relationships, yet there was little structure to support them. Given that straight folks have a hard time staying married, even with all the supports that are there, it's clear that humans need help with their monogamous relationships (note the number of heterosexual members of Congress who have worried about the "defense of marriage" yet have been guilty of extra-marital affairs...go figure). Domestic Partner benefits are part of the support structure that help committed couples stay together and work things out.
It shouldn't depend on whether state laws recognize such relationships. If civil rights for non-whites had been dependent on state laws rather than national law, we know that there are some states (which shall remain nameless) that would have taken forever to take these steps on their own. Thus, states have demonstrated that they are pretty retarded sometimes when it comes to recognizing human beings as human beings.
I'm a little up in the air as to whether Domestic Partner benefits should only be available to same s*x couples (since different s*x couples have the option to get married). This uncertainty stems from the fact that health care in general in the U.S. is so tied to coupledom in the first place. It seems a little skewed that health benefits, at least, are not available to everyone. If you're lucky enough to be married to someone with good health benefits, then you can get them too. If you're single, too bad. That just doesn't make sense. I guess I think that domestic partner benefits to same s*x couples is a good starting place, since straight folks can get these benefits through marriage.
My firm does not currently offer domestic partner benefits. We're a small place and the folks at the top lack progressive vision. And I know our firm has had openly gay employees in the past (who were apparently well-liked, but that was it...).
Thanks for posing the question.
An emphatic "bad idea" (c)! I am very concerned with the moral degradation of our nation and its impact on our future.
I believe domestic partner benefits are the right thing to do - but only if the relationship is recognized by state law. Otherwise, what is to keep any two same-sex heterosexual roommates from defrauding the insurance companies and sharing benefits??
All employees should be treated equally regardless of their sexual preference. If they can not legally marry then employers should extend benefits.
My company and the previous 3 companies I worked for offered domestic partner benefits.
I'd vote for (b) right thing to do, if the relationship is recognized by state law. Obviously, the actuaries have to be able to make a determination of validity of "committed relationship" to price benefits. Other than that, it's important to keep management, and the government, out of people's bedrooms. Hell, I could have accepted Bill Clinton saying "It's none of your damn business whether I had s*x with that woman, Miss Lewinsky." That, in spite of the fact that it is always a bad idea to fish where you swim - you never know when you'll get caught on a hook left lying around."
C a bad idea.... will allow MANY abuses to a health care system that is already out of control
C: A Bad Idea. I don't feel that businesses should spend money on benefits for partners that are not recognized under law as approved marriages. The budget for benefits is pushed to the limit in most organizations, especially the smaller businesses, and this would just put additional strain on those organizations. Soon, we won't have to worry about who is covered on benefits, we will all be without!!
Our firm does not offer domestic partner benefits. And in my opinion it is (c) a bad idea. My decision is not based on a moral view, it is based on the administrative nightmare I envision.
I won't say much on this topic but my vote is C, a bad idea. God doesn't recognize it. Why should anyone else?
a) It is becoming more main stream in society. I think the popularity of Queer Eye for the Straight Guy just shows you how accepted this lifestyle has become!
The easy answer to this one is only if they get married. Different sex domestic partners do not get benefits unless they are married. Same sex domestic partners should also not get benefits unless they are married. This would make it the same for everybody.
(a) Personally, I feel that the lifestyles of others is none of my business. Under the antiquated laws on the books in most of the states in this country, half the things married couples do in the privacy of their own bedrooms is against the law. While our insurance doesn't offer "domestic partner" insurance, it would seem to me that if it did, the sex of the partner should not matter. It is not my place to pass judgment on another human being.
I believe the discussion should turn to the definition of "Dependent" and not about marriage. The single union of one man and one woman should be protected as the basis of our families and our future.
Personally and professionally I say : a) the right thing to do On the professional level---it is good for morale and retention to allow everyone access to the same benefit packages.
Personally I have seen some non-married couples have relationships that last longer than marriages. So offer the benefits to same-sex and opposite-sex partners.
Domestic partner benefits: a good idea, but the wrong thing to do. Our society has established a special relationship - called marriage - that supports some of our very fundamental beliefs and values as a society. Marriage brings with it certain privileges - as well as responsibilities and drawbacks. Personally, I really don't care how two mature, consenting adults (same or opposite s*x) choose to live, but I think that we cross the line, and open a pandora's box, if we remove marriage from the benefits equation, and expect companies to decide who does and does not qualify as a domestic partner. If a couple wants the benefit of marriage - get married. If marriage is not allowed, they should lobby to change the laws, and the views of the society that creates them.
Our company does not offer domestic partner benefits.
The question of 'domestic partner benefits' is an economic decision identical to the question of offering medical benefits to employees, their spouses and dependents or the world at large, one depending on the labor market. Society errs when they attempt to make moral issues of strictly personal issues. The government has no compelling interest in anyone's private sexual practices, preferences or peculiarities. Let companies 'bait the hook' as they will with whatever benefit packages they choose to offer and the "fish" that choose to bite will determine if the package was successful. The invisible hand of the market will bless or curse. More government intervention IS NOT THE ANSWER!
It's hard enough to find any happiness on this planet, so I think marriage between 2 consenting adults (providing they aren't siblings or 1st cousins, etc.) should be allowed. Mutual commitment is a function of the brain and heart and not strictly anatomical. As far as domestic partner benefits - same sex couples currently get more of those benefits than non-married heteros*xual couples because they have people and organizations lobbying for them. Benefits should be the same across the board for all partners, regardless of what kind of couple they are.
That's my say for today!