Mayo Clinic: Same-sex partners must get married to keep benefits

Same-sex marriage becomes legal in Minnesota next week, and as a result of this historic step, gay couples working for the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota who wish to keep their health insurance benefits will have to quickly take the next step in their relationships--they must get married, according to the Rochester Post-Bulletin.

A deadline hasn't been set for these marriages, Minnesota Mayo Clinic spokesman Bryan Anderson said in a statement. "Mayo has long had a policy providing same-sex domestic partner benefits because those affected were not allowed to be married. That policy notes that marriage would be required if same-sex marriage became legal in the state where the couple lives," Anderson said.

Mayo's marriage policy would be the first among large companies. A spokesman from the Human Rights Campaign told the Post-Bulletin it's not a great idea--he brings up the fact that if the couple moves to another state where same-sex relationships and marriage are not welcome, they could be ousted for having married in Minnesota and face discrimination.

"I don't think (Mayo Clinic's) intentions are bad. We would certainly understand why a company would think would be an appropriate route, but I think when you put a little thought into it, it's not necessarily the best for the employee," he said.

The article points out Mayo Clinic has provided same-sex domestic partnership benefits since 2000.

The Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) was found unconstitutional by a 5-4 Supreme Court vote in June. It was announced then that once new policies are implemented, federal employees in same-sex marriages will be able to enroll their partners in the Federal Employees Health Benefits Plan.

"While we recognize that our married gay and lesbian employees have already waited too long for this day, we ask for their continued patience as we take the steps necessary to review the Supreme Court's decision and implement it," said Elaine Kaplan, acting director of the federal government's Office of Personnel Management, according to NPR.

To learn more:
- read the Post-Bulletin article