CommunityPam's House Blend

Wal-Mart Recognizes Gay Families

The beleaguered discount retailer (unfair pay to women, wage and hour violations, killing mom-and-pops), is seeing the light. I wonder what the Freepers, who are true-believers in this company (they hate progressive Costco and Target), think about Wallyworld taking gay families seriously? I haven’t seen this story surface there yet. (

Wal-Mart, the nation’s largest private employer, has adopted a new definition of family that includes same-sex partners recognized under state law. The new definition of “immediate family” was included in a conflict-of-interest policy for employees that the company filed yesterday with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

The policy which lays out the terms under which workers would violate that policy says, “You are responsible for advancing Wal-Mart’s business interests when the opportunity to do so arises. You may not take any opportunities or use any confidential information for your benefit, or for the benefit of your immediate family members, that you discover or obtain through your employment with Wal-Mart.”

It then goes on to define immediate family members to “include (whether by birth, adoption, marriage or Domestic Partnership or Civil Union, if recognized by your state or other local law) your spouse, children, parents, siblings, mothers and fathers-in-law, sons and daughters-in-law and brothers and sisters-in-law.”

The Human Rights Campaign applauded the change, which came with little fanfare. “We hope that with equal responsibility come equal benefits,” said HRC’s Daryl Herrschaft, deputy director for HRC’s workplace project. “We are encouraged by this sign showing America’s heartland employer understands same-sex couples share the responsibilities that come with being a family. It’s only appropriate for these families to also receive the same benefits as others.”

Currently 228 — or 45 percent — of Fortune 500 companies offer healthcare benefits to employees’ same-sex domestic partners or spouses. The number has increased ten-fold since 1995 when only 21 Fortune 500 companies offered the benefits. Wal-Mart competitors Costco Wholesale, Best Buy and Home Depot all offer domestic partner health benefits.

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Pam Spaulding

Pam Spaulding