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Coca-Cola joins employers giving benefits to homosexual partners

WASHINGTON (BP)–The Coca-Cola Co. will extend health-care benefits to the same-sex partners of its employees, giving the homosexual rights movement another June victory to go with the same actions by the big three auto makers earlier in the month.

Coca-Cola’s decision — like those of General Motors Corp., Ford Motor Co. and DaimlerChrysler Corp. — adds to a growing trend among American businesses of granting to the partners of homosexual workers health benefits previously reserved for the spouses of married employees. The soft-drink giant’s policy, which was announced June 22, will take effect Jan. 1. The automakers’ revision will be effective Aug. 1.

More than 3,400 private and public employers provide domestic-partner benefits, according to the Human Rights Campaign, the country’s largest homosexual political organization.

By its action, Coca-Cola became the 99th member of the Fortune 500 to grant such benefits, HRC reported. Six of the top 10 in the Fortune 500 have. They are, according to HRC: General Motors, No. 1; Ford, No. 4; IBM, No. 6; Citigroup Inc., No. 7; AT&T, No. 8, and Boeing, No. 10.

Among the industries where such benefits have become common in recent years are computer-related companies, motion-picture studios, airlines and oil companies.

Other corporations that already provide domestic-partner benefits, according to HRC, include American Express, Avon, Clorox, Eastman Kodak, Gap, General Mills, Levi Strauss, Mattel, Nike, Pillsbury, Proctor and Gamble, Reebok and Starbucks Coffee.

More than two-thirds of employers with domestic-partner benefits provide them not only to homosexuals but to unmarried heterosexual couples as well, according to HRC.

Last year, the newly merged Exxon Mobil Corp. bucked the trend. The company rescinded Mobil’s domestic-partner policy. The only company previously to roll back domestic-partner benefits was Perot Systems Inc., according to HRC. That corporation, headed by Texas billionaire Ross Perot, reversed the policy in 1998, HRC reported.

While homosexual rights organizations hail each addition to the domestic-partner column, pro-family groups oppose such policies for equating homosexual relationships with marriage.

The Southern Baptist Convention has repeatedly spoken in opposition to homosexuality as an acceptable lifestyle through resolutions adopted at its annual meetings. In 1997, messengers adopted a resolution opposing domestic-partner benefits and affirming businesses that “resist pressures to recognize the moral equivalence of domestic partnerships.”

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