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Domestic Dispute

The debate over benefits for same-sex couples heats up.

By Chris Penttila

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Providing benefits to same-sex couples is on CEOs' radar: Astudy by the Washington, DC-based Human Rights Campaign found there was an 18percent increase last year in private employers, colleges anduniversities offering domestic partnership benefits. Forty percentof Fortune 500 companies now offer them. Employers are respondingto the marketplace, says Kim Mills, education director of the HumanRights Campaign and co-author of the study. "A lot ofemployers are seeing that American families are not Ozzie, Harrietand the boys anymore."

Nearly 4 million unmarried same-sex couples lived together in2000, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. But couples can'taccess their partners' COBRA, 401(k) and Social Securitysurvivor benefits. And they pay additional federal income tax onthe benefits they do receive. "It's unfair," saysJustin Nelson, co-founder of the National Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce,a Washington, DC, grass-roots advocacy group.

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