LPS To Offer Benefits To Same Sex Employee Spouses

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It all has to do with insurance and coverage for a spouse of a same sex married person who works in a public school.

It can be confusing, especially if you know Nebraska doesn't recognize same sex marriages.

But this is a legal requirement by the Department of Labor that Blue Cross and Blue Shield must provide benefits to same sex partners.

When the enrollment period opens in January, the decision will be no different than for any other couple.

"Whether it's better to cover family coverage under one person or to carry individual policies so each family will decide how that works," said Abbigail Swatsworth, president of the LGBT outreach group Outlinc.

That decision is one some same sex spouses didn't have until now.

"Prior to this change any same sex spouses or same sex partners didn't have access to that insurance. As of January first, because of the DOMA ruling, because of the department of labor ruling, they will just have access to that insurance. It won't change the coverage or benefits," said Eric Weber, Associate Superintedent for Human Resources at LPS.

In June, The Supreme Court found a section of the Defense of Marriage Act, which defined marriage as a legal union between a man and a woman, unconstitutional.

Afterward, the Department of Labor and Internal Revenue Service made legal requirements that spouse be defined as any legally married couple.

That means school districts around Nebraska which have insurance through Blue Cross and Blue Shield's Educators Health Alliance plan must offer coverage to same sex spouses who are legally married in any state.

The special enrollment for same sex married couples begins in just a couple days.

LPS doesn't expect to see many people enrolling.

"We're not anticipating that the impact will be very large. Obviously it impacts a smaller group of people," said Weber.

Swatsworth says she is happy to see the change.

"It makes a huge difference to LGBT students to show that their school is supporting gay and lesbian teachers because that in a way also supports them and their future dreams," she said.

This insurance change doesn't just apply to LPS. It affects nearly all Nebraska school districts, as well as some cities and counties.

Again, it does not affect Nebraska's state law and that it doesn't recognize same sex marriages.

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