New Jersey governor Jon Corzine penned a letter to United Parcel Service CEO Michael Eskew asking the courier to abide by his state’s civil union laws.
UPS made headlines when they refused to grant gay couples the same benefits as their straight counterparts. Federal law allows, but does not require, interstate businesses to eschew inherently unequal civil union laws.
Now Corzine’s trying to get them in line.
They say the devil’s in the details, and New Jersey’s laws are no exception, a wrong Corzine tries to right when he reminds Eskew that despite their spelling, “spouse” and “partner” mean the same thing. In New Jersey legal theory, at least.
…A reference to “spouse” in a legal context, including in a contract, embraces civil union partners. This interpretation of “spouse” as it appears in the collective bargaining agreement(s) applicable to UPS employees who are in a New Jersey civil union would be consistent with New Jersey law and the intended purpose of the civil union statute. I urge you to reconsider your company’s reading of its collective bargaining agreement(s) on this point to facilitate implementation of the goals of the civil union law.
Hopefully Eskew will agree with Corzine’s definition of “urge”.
Corzine goes on to hint at what we’ve been highlighting: federalism screws queers. Corzine’s a bit more political in his delivery:
The provision of [civil union] benefits can, in some cases, mean the difference between the security of having health insurance, the financial strain of acquiring coverage at significant expense, or the risk of financial ruin by remaining uninsured. Surely, as a company with a longstanding commitment to its employees and the community, UPS would not want to make its employees and their families face these difficult choices based on the subtleties of the interaction of federal and State law…
Apparently UPS is willing to force “difficult” decisions. As they wrote in a letter to one rejected “partner,” “New Jersey law does not treat civil unions the same as marriages.” That same letter also insists that the company would extend benefits, but only if New Jersey ensures its gay couples the same standing as straights, as Massachusetts has done.
Perhaps Corzine missed UPS’ message: he has his own choices to make.