Mayo to Minn. staff with domestic partners: Get married or lose benefits

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Mayo Clinic for 13 years has offered health insurance to the partners of its employees in same-sex domestic partnerships – but that is going to change now that Minnesota has legalized same-sex marriage, the Rochester Post-Bulletin reports.

Mayo's new message to those employees: Get married, or your domestic partners lose benefits, the newspaper reports. Mayo hasn't yet set a wedding deadline for them. Minnesota's new law takes effect at midnight Wednesday.

"Mayo has long had a policy providing same-sex domestic partner benefits because those affected were not allowed to be married. That policy notes that marriage would be required if same-sex marriage became legal in the state where the couple lives," Mayo Clinic spokesman Bryan Anderson told the Post-Bulletin.

It seems an unusual move, observers say. The policy would be a first among large companies, a spokesman for Human Rights Watch, a national gay-rights group, told the Post-Bulletin.

Mayo has offered health benefits to domestic partners of employees since 2000, and the benefits are available to Mayo employees in Florida and Arizona, where same-sex marriage is not legal, the Post Bulletin reports.

Mayo Clinic last year did not take a position on gay marriage in the debate leading to a statewide vote on the proposed amendment to the Minnesota Constitution that would define marriage as between one man and one woman.

The Wall Street Journal last month examined some of the complex questions for employers that were prompted by a pair of Supreme Court rulings related to same-sex marriage. Among them: What happens to domestic-partner benefits, now that gay marriage is legal for the purposes of federal law?

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