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Still Fighting for Equal Rights in Massachusetts August 17, 2006

Posted by newsfittopost in healthcare, lgbt Issues, marriage equality.
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It has become apparent that even in the “gay paradise” state of Massachusetts, same-sex married couples will continue to face┬ádevastating discrimination until federal marriage equality is legalized. One of the most vital protections, health care for a spouse, can still be denied even though marriage equality was granted over two years ago.

After same-sex marriage became legalized in Massachusetts, the Tennessee-based company Essent Healthcare┬ácontacted Blue Cross and forced them to use the federal definition of marriage when administering health benefits to same-sex couples. Using the federal definition of “one man and one woman”, Essent was able to deny healthcare benefits to married same-sex couples in Massachusetts and continue the discriminatory practice of providing employment benefits based on sexual orientation.

A nurse at Merrimack Valley Hospital in Massachusetts, which uses Essent Healthcare, was told her spouse cannot receive healthcare benefits because she is a lesbian. The cost of this discrimination, beyond the emotional impact, can be easily assessed… the Kaiser Family Foundation estimates that covering an extra spouse costs $7,110 a year.

Opponents of marriage equality often times argue that gays and lesbians want special rights, not equal rights. When the entire staff at this hospital is given spousal healthcare benefits except for the same-sex married couple, the absurdity of the “special rights” argument is glaring. Denying marriage equality is discrimination and can only fall into two categories: ignorance or prejudice. It is harming real people and real families.

Fair-minded Americans, whether they support marriage equality or not, should be outraged over this blatant violation of equal rights. We must bug the hell out of Essent Healthcare until they respond. Write to their President & Ceo W. Hudson Connery, Jr. at hud.connery@essenthealthcare.comand tell him all couples deserve equal rights. Let him know that healthcare is not something to play politics with.