Will Boeing Deny Pension Benefits to Married Gay Couples?

By Julie Bolcer

Originally published on Advocate.com November 23 2012 12:58 PM ET

Boeing Company told union negotiators that it plans to deny pension survivor benefits to married same-sex couples in Washington because federal law does not require that it provide the benefit.

The multinational aerospace and defense corporation indicated its position in talks about retirement benefits Wednesday, according to a union source who spoke with The Stranger. The source said the company planned to use a “loophole” to avoid providing equal pension benefits, which are governed by federal, not state, law.

Boeing joined other major corporations with ties to Washington in advocating for the passage of the marriage equality law earlier this year, according to Politico. Voters approved the law this month by passing the ballot measure, Referendum 74. Same-sex couples will be able to legally marry in the state this December.

Boeing did not join an amicus brief filed last year by nearly 50 corporations in federal court in Massachusetts against the Defense of Marriage Act. The law, which could be considered by the Supreme Court soon, prohibits the federal government from recognizing same-sex civil marriages soon to be legal in nine states and the District of Columbia following this month’s election results.

A spokesman for Boeing refuted any suggestion of discrimination in company policy but did not directly address the question of whether the company had refused the pension benefits at the negotiating table, according to The Stranger. The company later issued a statement saying,  “Boeing is taking a closer look at how R-74 might impact company policies once it takes effect in December.”