Walmart to Offer Benefits to Same-Sex Domestic Partners


According to an internal memo obtained by Towleroad, Walmart plans to include domestic partners in its 2014 benefit plans in the U.S. and Puerto Rico starting on January 1, 2014 and will offer benefits to an associate's same- or opposite-sex spouse or to an unmarried partner, whether of the same or opposite gender.

WalmartWalmart has 1.3 million U.S. employees and is the largest employer outside the Department of Defense.

The news was given to employee members of the PRIDE associate resource group, which numbers close to 750, yesterday.

The new policies appear to be a response to stem confusion resulting from the recent Supreme Court DOMA ruling.

Said Walmart in the memo: "We operate in 50 states, hundreds of municipalities, and Puerto Rico, and as clarified under the Supreme Court's decision regarding the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) each of these states are developing different definitions of marriage, domestic partner, civil union, etc. By developing a single definition for all Walmart associates in the U.S. and Puerto Rico we are able to ensure consistency for associates in various markets."

The new policies are also going in place to attract and retain talent at the company, according to the memo.

The company says that the full suite of benefits will be available to domestic partners including medical, dental, vision, life insurance, discount cards, family leave, 401K, and critical illness and accident insurance.


  1. jamal49 says

    Well, that ought to get all Walmart’s Red State clientele in a snit. I wonder if One Million Moms, the AFA, the FRC, et al will launch boycotts or something. This should be fun.

  2. Wavin' Dave says

    Good News/ Bad News:
    Walmart will extend coverage.
    UPS announces it will rescind coverages for its white-collar workforce.
    Both cite the DOMA decision as their rationale.
    (I have a headache.)

  3. MaryM says

    Yeah but Walmart offers no benefits to the vast majority of their staff – gay or straight.

    Walmart staff generally live below the poverty line.

    So this news is meaningless PR.

    Walmart needs to start paying ALL their staff a living wage.

  4. Leo says

    Wal-Mart is still the face of international retail evil on many levels and this is a very slight (emphasis on SLIGHT) improvement.

    If you are financially able and the retail in your residential area allows it, not shopping at Wal-Mart is literally the easiest way on the planet to be labor conscious.

    Anyone that tries to defend them needs to have photo albums of the Bangladesh factory fire thrown at them, amongst years of other evidence.

  5. JD says

    This is a great move by any company – however Walmart treats ALL employees poorly forcing them to work for poverty wages, it is unlikely that many employees would be eligible for this benefit as Walmart typically works associates few hours so they don’t qualify for most benefits.

  6. james says

    If all major clothing retailers adopt such policies and all the right-wing haters boycott them all, won’t they mean they’ll be walking around naked all the time? Make it easier to spot them, doncha think?

  7. Francis #1 says

    This is nice. Of course, they’re doing not out of principled moral reasons, the company has a long anti-gay history and it’s questionable how many employees will even qualify for these benefits, but good news is good news. Walmart of all places. It’s great news, especially for the individuals who can qualify for the benefits, they will save a lot of $$$ and have more security.

  8. Jeffrey says

    This is good news. We live in a small town and my partner works at WalMart. I opened up a small retail shop in our downtown and don’t have health insurance. We’ve been fighting with WalMart ever since he was made full time and qualified for benefits. We’re in a civil union in IL but that didn’t qualify us before. You’re all right about the wages and the majority of their employees are part time workers but this will definitely help some people, myself included!

  9. Francis #1 says

    I’ve always read a lot of single young gays work at Walmart because it’s a job that pays something, often they’ve been cut off by their Southern religious families. At the Walmart in Richmond I’ve been inside twice (with my aunt, I never go there voluntarily), including just two weeks ago, I’d venture that 30% of the employees were clearly gay.

    I wonder how many gay employees will actually qualify for these benefits. If it’s like….5%, then it would be obvious this is little more than window dressing. Let’s keep our eyes on these developments.

  10. Jay Dwyer says

    Wait…aren’t like over half of their employees working only parttime so Walmart doesn’t have to pay any benefits at all.

    So, score one for LGBT equality, score negative 99 for LGBT people who can’t get hired there full-time anyway.

  11. Rick says


    Could you please refrain from attempting to tie every gay issue to the entire Left agenda?

    We would have made so much more progress over the years if the gay movement had not come to be perceived by a big chunk of the population as a Leftist movement rather than being about basic human decency and fairness. The simpler a movement’s message is, the better chance it has of succeeding, which is undercut by these endless attempts to make gay rights a strictly Leftist issue.

    Yes, Wal-Mart pays poorly–that is one way they keep prices low…..which benefits low-income consumers, who are its principal customer base. And those low-wage workers Wal-Mart employs are generally uneducated and would have few other options for employment if Wal-Mart did not provide them.

    So stop trying to villainize a company that, by the way, is also among the most environmentally responsible large corporations in the world.

    Their business model is simply a reflection of the world we live in, in which there are far too many, unskilled, uneducated people in the world–and far too many people, period–which necessarily is going to drive down wage rates everywhere.

    Thank you, Wal-Mart, for taking the lead in providing benefits to your gay employees.

  12. MaryM says

    Rick – Walmart’s abuse of its staff is not a Left issue or a gay issue.

    It’s a corporate responsibility issue.

    Walmart makes billions in profit annually.

    Yet even if you are a fulltime employee there you will not earn enough money to – certainly you won’t be able to pay your bills.

    Earning a living wage for working a fulltime job should not be a left or right issue

  13. Rick says

    @MARYM On one level, I agree when it comes to the “living wage” issue. On another level, however, Wal-Mart’s strategy–which is all about keeping prices as low as possible–entails keeping costs as low as possible. And if they can get away with paying people the minimum wage because the labor market allows them to, then they are going to do so (as are most businesses, by the way, including the family-run businesses that the Left likes to tout as a “moral” alternative to Wal-Mart).

    If you really are concerned about the low wages of the working poor, then the way to address the issue is a) to work for an increase in the minimum wage, and b) to stem the flow of Third World immigrants into this country, both legal and illegal–who are driving down wage rates across the board.

    No attempt to convince people not to buy from Wal-Mart because of their labor policies is every going to succeed because a large chunk of the population will always make their purchase decisions based entirely on price…….and as long as Wal-Mart offers the lowest prices, that is where they will continue to shop.

    Simple as that.

    Regardless, my original point still stands. How well or how poorly Wal-Mart pays its employees is NOT an inherently gay issue and so no attempt should be made to tie the two together.

  14. DKT says

    Well from all the comments I have read clearly those bitching about Wal-Mart and there wages and benefits have never worked there!! As a 23 year associate I have seen it all and the benefits are good and the pay is above what similar retailers pay and is fair for the job employees do without any education other than a high school diploma and some don’t have that. All businesses have there issues, people just choose to attack Wal-Mart because they have the most money! But guess what, when the economy crashed, I still have my job because at Wal-Mart you save Money and that makes you live better, especially when you lose your job and need to save money!!

  15. DKT says

    To add to my previous comment, thank you Wal-Mart for giving me and my wife one more reason to be proud to work for the company!!

  16. Mary says

    This is good news. However one feels about Walmart as a company, they made a good move with this decision. I’m for anything that makes families, gay OR straight, stronger.

  17. GregV says

    I was recently handed a gay pride rainbow bracelet that says “Walmart” inside. I looked puzzled at the guy who was handing them out and said, “Wal-Mart’s gay-friendly now?” and he just smiled and nodded. (My guess was that the nod meant, “Sure, I guess so, but I just work here and don’t really know a good answer.”)
    I had been avoiding shopping there for years.

  18. Bob says

    THEY ARE DOING IT TO KEEP EMPLOYEES — anyone who ascribes a heart to the Waltons is full of it

  19. sandyfoot says

    Walmart does offer benefits for all employees
    including pat time for many years. The only associates who don’t receive benefits are temporary seasonal employees. The benefits are decent compared to other retail, in fact they have one of the best profit sharing/401k plans in retail.

  20. Francis #1 says

    DKT, you’re an associate. You’re someone whose pretty high up the food-chain. 90% of LGBT employees will not qualify for these benefits. But at least Walmart has made some improvements based on your experience, thank you for sharing.

    Walmart is in fact raising the price of their benefits package by up to 10% next year. So the facts are clear, this is a company that treats their employees horrendous. But for some same-sex couples they now will save a lot of money and that’s a good thing.

  21. ali says

    The idea that Walmart can’t improve employee compensation is laughable when you look at their profit. In Q2 (April-June) 2013, Walmart’s net income was $4.07 billion.

    Large numbers are hard to comprehend, so here’s a breakdown: Walmart earns $44.7 million each day. Or, $31,059 every minute.

    In comparison, the next 5 general merchandise retailers in the Fortune 500 (Target, Sears, Macy’s, Kohl’s, and Dollar General) had a combined 2013 Q2 profit of $1.57 billion.

    It only took Walmart 35 days to earn as much as all five of those other companies made during the entire quarter.