Arkansas Employers Benefits To Same-Sex Couples

By KOLR10 News

Published 09/20 2013 12:02PM

Updated 09/20 2013 12:04PM

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. -- Although Arkansas has a ban on gay marriage, many Arkansas employers must now manage certain retirement plans, health insurance plans and other workplace benefits to include same-sex couples legally married in a state or country that recognizes such marriages.

The U.S. Department of Labor announced Wednesday (Sept. 18) that a June 26 decision by the U.S. Supreme Court requires technical changes to the department's Employee Benefits Security Administration. The EBSA change apply to "plans, plan sponsors, fiduciaries, participants and beneficiaries on the decision's impact on the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974," noted the DOL statement.

One of Arkansas' largest employers has already opened up benefits to same-sex couples. Wal-Mart recently announced an expansion of coverage eligibility for any spouse or domestic partner of a full-time employee which includes, medical, dental, a new vision option, critical illness and accident plans. Domestic partners will be eligible beginning in 2014, during the enrollment period starting Oct. 12.

Wal-Mart joins a list of Fortune 500 companies including Costco, Ford, Home Depot and Best Buy to offer health care benefits to same-sex partners. The civil rights group, Human Rights Campaign, estimates 62% of Fortune 500 companies have already done so. HRC said inclusion efforts have increased from 34% in 2002.

(story contributed by KARK, Little Rock)

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