Press

IBM Gives Green To Gays

Date: 
September 26, 1996

The IBM Corporation, nicknamed "Big Blue" because of its dominant market position and size, has flexed its muscle in the diversity department and given green to the gay and lesbian community. The Fortune Top Ten giant recently announced it was extending domestic partnership benefits to its gay and lesbian employees and has made a financial contribution to the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force (NGLTF) for its coalition building efforts.

On September 19, IBM announced it would extend health-care coverage to the same-gender partners of its employees. This makes IBM the largest U.S. business to offer domestic partnership (DP) benefits. More than 400 American companies, universities, associations, municipalities and other groups extend DP benefits, including information processing concerns such as Microsoft, Apple, Intel, Xerox and Hewlett-Packard. An IBM spokesperson said the company was announcing the DP policy to remain competitive and attract gay and lesbian workers, and continue its "long-standing tradition of providing benefits plans for all employees."

On the heels of the announcement, NGLTF has received an IBM gift of $3,000. The gift, which came from the IBM Chairman's Fund, will be used as part of the Task Force's "Honoring Our Allies" event. The event recognizes the work of gay and non-gay individuals and groups who have championed fairness and equality for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people. The next Honoring Our Allies event will be held in Washington, D.C., December 4, 1996, with plans to salute the work of members of the South African Government and the African National Congress who have advocated on behalf of inclusion of civil rights for gays in that nation's new constitution.

"Corporate America is changing fast," said Robert Bray, NGLTF media director and a former IBM employee. "More and more companies are doing what the U.S. Congress and its Defense of Marriage Act won't do: give recognition and benefits to same-gender relationships. When I worked at IBM in the early 80's there were few openly gay employees. Now, more and more gay and lesbian people are coming out in boardrooms and on assembly lines and are creating real change in the American workplace."

NGLTF urges people to write and thank IBM. Contact Louis V. Gerstner, Jr., Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, IBM Corporation, Old Orchard Rd., Armonk, NY 10504-1783.

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The mission of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force is to build the political power of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community from the ground up. We do this by training activists, organizing broad-based campaigns to defeat anti-LGBT referenda and advance pro-LGBT legislation, and by building the organizational capacity of our movement. Our Policy Institute, the movement’s premier think tank, provides research and policy analysis to support the struggle for complete equality and to counter right-wing lies. As part of a broader social justice movement, we work to create a nation that respects the diversity of human expression and identity and creates opportunity for all. Headquartered in Washington, D.C., we also have offices in New York City, Los Angeles, Miami, Minneapolis and Cambridge.