Exxon Mobil Corp. is extending benefits to same-sex spouses of U.S. employees, following the June ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court that struck down the federal Defense of Marriage Act, which led to changes by the Internal Revenue Service and other agencies on what constitutes legal marriages. Exxon was one of the last major corporate holdouts on the issue, Bloomberg reported.
Exxon’s announcement “shows the tide is continuing to turn in corporate America,” New York State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli told Bloomberg. DiNapoli, for the past four years had failed to gain approval for shareholder resolutions it sponsored urging Exxon to take this step. “This is a very positive step for the LGBT community and a vindication of years of efforts by shareholders and activists across the country.”
Exxon bases its employee benefits programs on the government’s definition of marriage in the nations where it operates, and therefore, the Irving, Texas-based company adapted its policy to meet the recent changes in the U.S., noted Alan Jeffers, a spokesman for Exxon. The company already provided benefits to same-sex spouses in 30 other countries where local laws allow for the marriages, he told Bloomberg.
As of July 2013, 88% of Fortune 500 companies included orientation in their nondiscrimination policies, and more than 60% offered domestic partner health benefits, according to the Human Rights Campaign. Wal-Mart Stores Inc., the largest U.S. employer, announced plans to extend benefits to same-sex partners on Aug. 27.