In denying benefits, firm says civil union not marriage's equal

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July 8, 2007


"A company that provides health care coverage to married gay couples in Massachusetts has denied the same benefits to a couple who entered a civil union in New Jersey.

"United Parcel Service's decision to deny coverage to a Toms River couple boils down to a single word: New Jersey law does not call them 'spouses.'

"'We were supposed to be treated equally. We should be treated equally,' said Heather Aurand, who was denied health care coverage by UPS, which employs her civil union partner.

"In its letter denying coverage, UPS said it does provide health benefits to its employees' spouses, including spouses of the same sex who are married in Massachusetts. But it said New Jersey's decision to recognize same-sex relationships as civil unions rather than marriages tied its hands.

"...'The Legislature said: You folks aren't worthy of marriage. That has an impact,' said David Buckel, a lawyer with the gay rights organization Lambda Legal. 'If the New Jersey Legislature would just take back the invitation to discriminate, UPS would do the right thing.'"