Walmart quietly announced its new policy, which will begin in January, with a postcard sent to employees. Forbes reported that Walmart told its employees that all full-time company “associates” would be able to cover a spouse or domestic partner regardless of gender.
Forbes quoted Walmart’s senior vice president of benefits, Sally Welborn, as writing in an internal memo to company management that the move was a “business decision, not a moral or political decision. We operate in 50 states, hundreds of municipalities and Puerto Rico, and as clarified under the Supreme Court’s decision to strike down section 3 of 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 across our markets.”
According to Forbes, the memo included an admonition from Welborn to Walmart executives and retail managers about their words and actions regarding the controversial policy change. “Your behavior matters,” Welborn's memo reportedly said. “The words you use also matter. We are counting on you to be thoughtful, supportive and understanding of multiple viewpoints. Your visibility can make a big difference to how associates feel.”
Chad Griffin of the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), a high-profile homosexual activist group, applauded Walmart's decision, recalling that he once worked at an Arkansas Walmart. “I am moved by my former employer's historic action that further proves equality is good business,” Griffin wrote in an e-mailed statement published by USA Today.
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