New York Extends Benefits to Gays Married Outside State

By Staff Report

Nov. 28, 2008

Employers must offer same-sex couples who are legally married outside New York state the same employee benefits as they extend to opposite-sex married couples, the New York Insurance Department has ordered.

Under a bulletin issued Friday, November 21, by Insurance Superintendent Eric Dinallo, any employer that fails to recognize the marriages of same-sex couples legally performed in other jurisdictions will be in violation of state laws prohibiting discrimination.

Insurers also are required to provide the same coverage treatment to same-sex legally married couples as to opposite-sex married couples, Dinallo’s order states. If not, they will be considered in violation of insurance laws prohibiting discrimination.

The bulletin, known as a Circular Letter, was issued in response to an inquiry to the department that was precipitated by a February 2008 decision by a New York state appellate court in Martinez v. Monroe Community College. The court found the plaintiff and her same-sex partner were entitled to recognition in New York state as legally married for purposes of receiving employer-provided benefits.

The plaintiff, Patricia Martinez, had filed the lawsuit after her employer denied her application to obtain health care benefits for her same-sex spouse, whom she had married in Canada. The employer’s attempt to appeal the ruling was denied.

(For more, read “The Future of Diversity: Changing Focus, Practices Can Create New Business.”)

Filed by Joanne Wojcik of Business Insurance, a sister publication of Workforce Management. To comment, e-mail

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