State says employers must provide same benefits for gay and straight married employees


OLYMPIA, Wash – Employers operating in Washington that offer health plans for opposite-sex spouses must also provide coverage for same-sex spouses.

State Attorney General Bob Ferguson, Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler  and Human Rights Commission Executive Director Sharon Ortiz released a letter Thursday to employers, insurance companies and benefit administrators reminding everyone that offering equal coverage is required by state law.

State officials said they have learned some health plans currently provide coverage for opposite-sex spouses, but not for same-sex spouses.

The reminder comes in the wake of a recent agreement between the state and O’Reilly Automotive Inc after an employee complained that a same-sex spouse was ineligible for coverage under the company’s former benefit plan.  That has now changed as a result of the new agreement.