ACLU Applauds United Airlines' Decision to Extend Domestic Partnership Benefits to Employees Nationwide

August 4, 1999 12:00 am

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NEW YORK, NY — The American Civil Liberties Union applauds United Airlines for becoming the first U.S. carrier to provide comprehensive fringe benefits to the domestic partnerships of its lesbian and gay employees nationwide. The announcement marks a huge step towards equality in the workforce.

“United is the first major U.S. carrier to fully recognize domestic partners,” said Matthew Coles, Director of the ACLU’s National Lesbian and Gay Rights Project. “Since it is the largest airline in the world, its domestic competitors are sure to follow suit.”

With United’s decision to provide these benefits, transportation becomes the fourth major industry to recognize gay and lesbian relationships.

“Social recognition of lesbian and gay couples has largely been the result of efforts to persuade local governments and major businesses to include them in fringe benefit plans,” said Robert Kim, an attorney with the ACLU of Northern California. “Until United’s decision, most of the progress had come from the high-tech, entertainment, and finance industries. This is a major addition to the growing list of businesses that treat lesbians and gay men fairly.”

United had previously been ordered by a federal judge in San Francisco to provide travel privileges, bereavement leave and medical leave to both same-sex and opposite-sex domestic partnerships. This order was based on a city law that required anyone conducting business with the city to treat domestic partners on par with married couples.

The ACLU, along with Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund and the National Center for Lesbian Rights, appeared in the case as a friend-of-the-court. Matthew Coles, Robert Kim, and Kelli Evans represented the ACLU.

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