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Sunday, July 08, 2007

United Parcel Service has denied health benefits to some same-sex couples in New Jersey

Health care coverage woes show limitations of civil union law

July 8, 2007, 6:13 PM EDT
AP New Jersey/Newsday

TRENTON, N.J. -- United Parcel Service has denied health benefits to some same-sex couples in New Jersey, a decision gay rights advocates say starkly illustrates the limitations of the state's civil unions legislation.

The company provides health benefits to its employees' spouses, including married gay couples in Massachusetts. However, it said the Garden State's decision to recognize same-sex relationships as civil unions, rather than marriages, has tied its hands.

In a letter to Gabriael "Nickie" Brazier, a driver for UPS, and her civil union partner, Heather Aurand, the company concluded that "New Jersey law does not treat civil unions the same as marriages." It said if the state had done that, Aurand could have been included in the health coverage plan as a spouse.
"This is a problem the Legislature created," Steven Goldstein, chairman of the gay rights group Garden State Equality, told The Star-Ledger of Newark for Sunday's editions. "Civil unions are never in our lifetime going to be respected by employers like marriage."
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