Under pressure from a gay rights group, New York State has reversed a position it has held for two years denying unemployment benefits to gays and lesbians who quit their jobs to follow their partners taking new jobs out of state, according to The New York Times on Wednesday.
The move outraged state Conservative Party chairman Michael Long, who said the state won't be able to monitor the validity of claims without inordinate expense. "It's absolutely ridiculous," Long said. "You're talking about needing an inspector general for all these people who claim--who claim--they have a domestic partner.... Here we go again with giving special privileges to people who are looking to destroy what has been tradition from the beginning of time, which is the sanctity of marriage between a man and a woman."
The newspaper reported Wednesday that the state labor department's top lawyer has told the state Unemployment Insurance Appeals Board to reverse a ruling that prohibited unemployment benefits to same-sex couples in long-term relationships.
The state's leading gay and lesbian rights group, Empire State Pride Agenda, is unsure of how many couples the change might affect or the cost to the state. The state's reversal was prompted by a single case of a Rochester woman who moved with her partner to Virginia six years ago but was unable to land a job. Gov. George Pataki intervened on the couple's behalf. Married straight couples already have the benefit. "This one case highlighted the fact that our families were not being treated the same as all other families in New York," said Joe Tarver, a spokesman for Pride Agenda, which had sought Pataki's intervention.