Boeing Agrees to Offer Gay Employees Pension Benefits

After using the Defense of Marriage Act as excuse to deny partner benefits for gay couples in November, aircraft maker Boeing has agreed to grant Washington State gays pension benefits.

Boeing Co. told union workers at the Society of Professional Engineering Employees in Aerospace it would give its gay employees based out of Washington equal survivor pension benefits, according to The Stranger.

The exact contract read:  “Recognizing Boeing’s commitment to equality without regard to sexual orientation, Boeing will extend pension survivor benefits to all spouses, as defined under either State or Federal law whichever defines the same
sex person as a spouse.”

In November, Boeing had denied equal benefits for gay couples arguing that even though gay marriage is legal in Washington, the federal government does not recognize same-sex unions under DOMA.

DOMA is a 1996 law that defines marriage as a union between a man and a woman, thus depriving gay couples of the rights and privileges granted to heterosexual couples, like filing tax returns together and maintaining estate rights after widowing.

“We are satisfied that this language protects same-sex spouses,” Ray Goforth, executive director of SPEEA’s IFPTE Local 2001, told The Stranger.

The local union represents 23,000 Boeing employees, most of them engineers and technical workers who live in Washington.

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