Same-Sex Health Benefits

There’s an ongoing controversy at the University of Pittsburgh regarding same-sex benefits. I’m going to send in the following as a letter to the editor of the Pitt News.

Same-sex benefits do not make sense financially. Such benefits will not make sense until homosexual civil unions are recognized by the state as legally binding contracts like their heterosexual counterparts.

Before offering health benefits to partners, insurance companies want assurance of a binding marriage contract. This ensures permanence in the relationship. Without that permanence, fraud and abuses abound (eg Benefits could be offered to partners who are little more than roommates.). One might be tempted to call marriage impermanent these days, given the ~50% divorce rate. However, when the marriage contract is willfully terminated, benefits need no longer be offered to the divorced partner. Marriage is permanent in the sense that it does not cease with a simple “good-bye” as unbound partnerships can.

If I were making decisions for an insurance company, I would make it prohibitively expensive for a company to offer benefits to partners of its employees. This would serve to offset the inherent liabilities. I suspect that this is already current practice. Thus it does not make sense for Pitt, or any other company or institution in PA, to offer benefits to any unbound partners, same-sex or otherwise. Instead of crying to the ACLU or picketing the university, advocates for same-sex benefits should focus on getting homosexual civil unions recognized by the state as marriage contracts.