ExxonMobil to offer benefits to gay and lesbian spouses

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HOUSTON, TX – For years, ExxonMobil’s been near the top of the heap when it came to profits, second only to Apple. But they’re the bottom of the barrel when it comes to gay-friendly benefits.  The Human Rights Campaign has a Corporate Equality Index and out of 100 points, ExxonMobil got a negative 25. Yikes!

But they may finally be turning that around. See — they’ve announced they’ll start offering health benefits to spouses of same-sex married couples October 1st.

That’s something Noel Freeman, president of Houston’s GLBT (Gay/Lesbian/Bisexual/Transgender) Political Caucus, calls “a really big deal for Exxon.” He says they are “notoriously resistant” and “aggressively pursue” rollbacks of protections for gay and lesbian employees. In fact, when they bought Mobil, Mobil had a non-discrimination policy regarding sexual orientation. Exxon got rid of it and killed Mobil’s same-sex domestic partner benefits.

“It’s not really a big deal that a Fortune 500 company is offering these benefits for same-sex spouses,” says Freeman. “It’s actually more unusual for a Fortune 500 company to NOT offer those benefits.”

ExxonMobil’s new benefits will only apply to those same-sex couples married in a state or country where marriage is legal, so no domestic partners still.

Maybe this is just Exxon keeping up with the Joneses (or in this case, the Shells and Chevrons), but who really cares? It’s a good first step and might encourage other conservative companies to hit the gas on giving equal benefits to everyone. After all, at the end of the day, straight or gay, we all just want to take care of the people we love.

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