Earlier this week the Subcommittee on Federal Workforce, Postal Service, and the District of Columbia held a hearing on domestic partnership benefits legislation. The hearing consisted of three panels of experts including Wisconsin's own Rep. Tammy Baldwin. Her presence was certainly no surprise since she was the one to introduce the Domestic Partnership Benefits and Obligations Act of 2009 (DPBO). Baldwin was also joined by an executive from American Airlines, who helped make the case for full benefits for gay and lesbian employees and their partners. In many ways American Airlines has led the way in this specific area and the executive encouraged that the government do the same for its employees.
In the area of domestic partnership benefits and LGBT equality, a good portion of corporate America is certainly leading the way. For example, in the Human Rights Campaign's (HRC) annual Corporate Equality Index report, 260 companies scored a 100 percent. For comparison, only 13 scored that high back in 2002 when HRC first published the report. Two of those 260 are corporations that are headquartered in Wisconsin. Those two are Milwaukee-based law firm Foley and Lardner and Racine's S.C. Johnson & Son Inc. Wisconsin corporations scoring a 100 percent on the Equality Index were behind all of our neighboring states with the exception of Iowa.
Surly there are other Wisconsin-based corporations that would do just as well on the Equality Index, perhaps they simply didn't know how to participate. One would think that organizations such as Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce (WMC), that purport to represent these corporations, would make it their job to inform their members of such honors (especially if they have earned them through outstanding policy). On the other hand, WMC was found severely lacking when the question of equality came in the form of the discrimination amendment of 2006. Perhaps the new Wisconsin Business Council will do a better job for Wisconsin and its membership in this area. Perhaps they will see the value in following the strong national trend toward equality for LGBT workers.
Read the full 2009 Corporate Equality Index (large pdf)