The Boeing Corporation has told union negotiators that it will "likely deny pension survivor benefits" to married same-sex couples in Washington despite the fact that voters overwhelmingly approved marriage equality, according to The Stranger.
Boeing has maintained that pension benefits are governed by the federal Employee Retirement Income Security Act and that it does not plan to voluntarily offer benefits to the partners of their gay and lesbian employees, union representative Ray Goforth told The Stranger.
Goforth explains that his union has long sought equal pension benefits for same-sex domestic partners, to no avail. But since voters approved same sex marriage—stablishing parity with married straight couples—Goforth re-framed the proposal to apply to his union's gay Boeing employees who wed.
"Their answer was that they had no intention of granting pension survivor benefits to legally married same-sex couples because they didn't have to," Goforth explains. Boeing representatives told him that pensions are governed by federal law, which doesn't recognize same-sex marriage, thereby trumping the state law on the matter. "We were profoundly disappointed to see that they would use a loophole to engage in institutionalized discrimination," Goforth says.
Section Three of the Defense of Marriage Act prevents the federal government from recognizing valid marriages of same-sex couples. It is anticipated that the Supreme Court will hear several key challenges to DOMA this term.
Boeing has issued a statement promising to undertake "a closer look at how R-74 might impact company policies once it takes effect in December."
The Chicago-based Boeing is the nation's largest aerospace/aviation manufacturer and one of the largest such companies in the world. The corporation has extensive production facilities in Washington and reportedly joined Microsoft and Nike in backing that state's "everything but marriage” expanded same-sex domestic partnership law in 2009. Boeing was applauded when it offered benefits to the domestic partners of salaried, nonunion employees a decade earlier, reports the Los Angeles Times.