UPS Delivers on Health Benefits

Mearmon Davis and Tom Walton with their children.
Mearmon Davis, Tom Walton and children TJ & JymmeAnne
After mounting pressure from Lambda Legal and New Jersey Governor Jon Corzine, United Parcel Service said it will provide benefits to the same-sex civil union partners of its employees in New Jersey.

Lambda Legal announced that we would represent UPS employees Nickie Brazier and Tom Walton after UPS sent a letter outlining why it was denying spousal benefits. The letter read: "The New Jersey legislature…did not go as far as Massachusetts and afford same-sex couples the ability to marry.  Had the New Jersey legislature done that, you could have added your partner as a spouse under the benefit plan."

In a statement to announce the company's change of policy, UPS's senior vice president of human resources said, "Based on initial legal review when this law was enacted, it did not appear that a 'civil union' and 'marriage' were equivalent." UPS has decided to provide health benefits to same-sex partners, but UPS is just one company.

"The consequences to such ongoing mistakes are severe," says Lambda Legal Marriage Project Director David Buckel. "Rather than going employer to employer and explaining civil unions one by one, the legislature has a quick fix: allowing same-sex couples to marry."


On October 25, 2006, Lambda Legal won a declaration from the New Jersey Supreme Court that barring same-sex couples from the rights and benefits of marriage violated the constitutional promise of equality. The court gave the New Jersey legislature a deadline of 180 days to correct the violation, and the legislature chose to create the separate status of civil unions.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ):
Civil Unions for Same-Sex Couples in the State of New Jersey

Q: Will my employer have to give my civil union partner health insurance coverage?

A: There are employers who must do so and those who should do so. The court said that government cannot treat same-sex couples differently from different-sex couples when it comes to the rights and benefits of marriage, so government employers, both state and local, must treat equally the civil union partners and married spouses of employees. In addition, New Jersey law bars discrimination against civil union partners, so many private employers and others — like businesses, and insurance companies — will be barred from discriminating against someone because he or she is a partner in a civil union. Read more »

Did New Jersey Fulfill Its Constitutional Promise of Equality?

Lewis v. Harris: Essay On a Settled Questions and an Open Question
By David Buckel, for the Rutgers Law Review, Vol. 59, Winter 2007, No.2

If a state creates an institution separate from marriage solely for a minority group, does that fulfill the State's constitutional promise of equality? Read more »