Thursday, April 17, 2014

Intermountain Healthcare offering benefits to same-sex spouses

By McKenzie Romero, Deseret News

Published: Tue, Dec. 3 9:30 p.m. MST

 Intermountain Healthcare announced Tuesday it is joining the list of Utah employers offering spousal benefits for same-sex couples, despite the state's stance not recognizing same-sex marriages.

Intermountain Healthcare announced Tuesday it is joining the list of Utah employers offering spousal benefits for same-sex couples, despite the state's stance not recognizing same-sex marriages.

(Tom Smart, Deseret News)

SALT LAKE CITY — Intermountain Healthcare announced Tuesday it is joining the list of Utah employers offering spousal benefits for same-sex couples, despite the state's stance not recognizing same-sex marriages.

The change opens access to spouse and family benefits for couples who have legally married in states that recognize same-sex marriage, Intermountain Healthcare spokesman Jason Burgess said.

Intermountain made the decision based on decisions such as the U.S. Supreme Court's ruling declaring Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act as unconstitutional. The nonprofit system of 22 hospitals is the largest private employer in Utah and southern Idaho, according to its website.

The new benefit options will be available starting in 2014.

Additionally, the change helps the company stay competitive as more Utah employers begin extending benefits to same-sex couples, Burgess said. Those companies include University of Utah Hospital, ARUP Laboratories, Zions Bank, West Valley City, Salt Lake City and Salt Lake County.

For Brandie Balken, spokeswoman for Equality Utah, spousal benefits for same-sex couples symbolizes the ability to care for her family. It's also just fair, she said.

"When you say to an employee, 'I'm going to pay for your family's benefits, but not not yours,' you're actually paying one person less," Balken said. "For (Intermountain Healthcare) to remain competitive, not only in recruitment but also in retaining the best talent and the best employees, they really need to offer equitable benefits to their employees."

Since 2004, the Utah Constitution has defined marriage as a legal union between a man and a woman, and the state does not recognize other domestic unions as legal marriages.

Email: mromero@deseretnews.com

Twitter: McKenzieRomero

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1. Turtles Run
Houston, TX,
Dec. 3, 2013

Great news. It is good to see the march to marriage equality still continues despite the prejudices within the state of Utah.

2. A Scientist
Provo, UT,
Dec. 3, 2013

Bravo! I applaud this fair minded decision. Kudos to IHC.

3. Kalindra
Salt Lake City, Utah,
Dec. 3, 2013

Sweet!

4. Sorry Charlie!
SLC, UT,
Dec. 3, 2013

Well done.

5. Wilf 55
SALT LAKE CITY, UT,
Dec. 4, 2013

Well done, IH! For others, step by step the pressure is mounting to do the right thing. Which business, public service, or church will be the last to have to admit that equality applies to all? History will remember who that last intolerant entity was.