Blue Cross and Blue Shield to Cover Same-Sex Couples

By pdimaso

Originally published on Advocate.com July 28 2008 11:00 PM ET

Less than three
weeks after a legally married New York lesbian
couple filed a lawsuit against Blue Cross and Blue Shield of
Western New York for denying them spousal health care
benefits, the health insurance company has announced
it will begin covering married same-sex couples,
according to OutcomeBuffalo.com.

“We
applaud Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Western New York for
following the law and treating all married couples the
same,” Donna Lieberman, New York Civil
Liberties Union executive director, told OutcomeBuffalo.
“Families who were denied coverage up until this
point will now be able to protect themselves with
health care coverage.”

The lawsuit,
filed on July 9 in Erie County supreme court, followed the
NYCLU’s landmark legal victory in Martinez v.
County of Monroe,
in which an appeals court
unanimously ruled that New York State must recognize
the valid out-of-state marriages of lesbian and gay
couples.

In February,
Jeanne Kornowicz, a school psychologist at the Cheektowaga
Central School District, asked her employer to provide
health coverage for her wife, Joy Higgins, after she
learned of the NYCLU’s victory in Martinez.
The couple was married in Canada in 2006. Higgins gave
birth to the couple’s daughter, Elizabeth Higgins, in
July 2007, and Kornowicz’s second-parent adoption of
Elizabeth was made final in January of this year.

Despite the
school district’s multiple demands that Blue Cross
and Blue Shield of Western New York grant
Kornowicz’s request for spousal coverage, the
insurance company refused to comply. Many other New York
insurers, including other insurers carrying the Blue Cross
and Blue Shield name, have been recognizing same-sex
couples’ valid out-of-state marriages for
years.

“As
spouses and parents, Jeanne and Joy deserve the same
protections that every other family in New York State
enjoys,” NYCLU staff attorney Matt Faiella told
OutcomeBuffalo. “We’re so relieved for their
family that they will finally know some peace of
mind.” (The Advocate)