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Some companies dropping same-sex benefits

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BOSTON, Dec 08, 2004 (United Press International via COMTEX) -- Some companies in Massachusetts are ending health benefits for unmarried homosexual partners since the state allows same-sex couples to marry.

Saying they need to treat all couples the same, and such health insurance benefits are not extended to unmarried heterosexual couples, the companies are generally phasing out the benefits over time.

Among the companies ending domestic-partner benefits for at least some of their Massachusetts employees are IBM Corp., Raytheon Co., Northeastern University, Baystate Health System and The New York Times Co., which owns the Boston Globe, which reported the development Wednesday.

IBM told the Globe its domestic-partner benefits would end January 2006.

Because of the varied way the benefits were being ended and because not all were ending the benefits, it was not known how much money the move would save companies.

Brad Salavich, global program manager for workforce diversity at IBM, told the newspaper: "We were very clear. (The benefit) was an extensions to equalize benefits for gay and lesbian employees who were not legally able to have their relationships recognized."

A New England gay advocacy group said ending those benefits is an unfair hardship because of current federal tax law and other legal barriers.

The Globe said that not all companies are ending the same-sex partner benefits and some were actually expanding them.

Copyright 2004 by United Press International.

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