2012 will mark the beginning of Baltimore County extending health benefits to its employee’s same-sex spouses. The policy change comes after arbitration in favor of two police officers who filed grievances over the failure of the county to provide health coverage (that they had been paying for) to their same-sex spouses.
Baltimore County is not the first locale in Maryland to give at least some faith and credit to the legal same-sex marriages of other states. Employees of the state of Maryland, Baltimore City, Howard County, and Montgomery County already include their same-sex spouses in their health benefits.
The new policy will only acknowledge gay couples with a legal marriage (from another state, of course) and will not extend to those living in domestic partnerships. But it’s an incremental win for gay rights advocates in Maryland and highlights same-sex marriage as a fairly simple civil rights issue. Hopefully, it will soon become clear to those who stumble over the issue on religious grounds that to deny gays the right to marry is simply to deny American citizens equal protection under the law.