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Wal-Mart Takes Stand For Same-Sex Partners

August 28, 2013

This may be the first time ever that Caffeinated Politics has something nice to say about Wal-Mart.

One of the first news stories I read this morning online was that Wal-Mart will rise above the fray and take a stand for gay rights.   This is one of those moments when the rest of the business world pays attention, and rightly so.  Time has long passed for some to think that gay Americans do not deserve the same equality that all others in the nation enjoy.

Wal-Mart Stores Inc. decision to extend health-care benefits to workers’ same-sex partners removes one of the biggest holdouts and adds pressure on other resistant companies to follow suit.

“You can go to your board, and all of a sudden you’re not swimming against the stream as much as you were yesterday,” said Wallace Hopp, associate dean of faculty and research at the University of Michigan’s Stephen M. Ross School of Business. “You can say, ‘Jeez, Wal-Mart does it.’”

Wal-Mart, the largest U.S. private employer and a frequent target of labor-rights groups, described the change yesterday mainly as a path to a consistent policy as some states alter the definition of marriage. Even so, the switch after years of opposition may help tip the balance at companies such as trucker YRC Worldwide Inc. (YRCW), which is considering partner benefits for 2014, or Exxon Mobil Corp. (XOM), one of the biggest firms left without such coverage.

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