Maryland to end insurance benefits for same sex couples

Martin O'Malley of MarylandThe same sex partners of Maryland state employees will no longer receive health insurance benefits, governor Martin O’Malley has announced.

In November, Maryland became of the one of the first three US states to vote for the legalisation of gay marriage.

The governor’s office said same sex couples would now need to marry in order to receive state health benefits, The Baltimore Sun reports. Officials said the change was necessary because the partners of cohabiting heterosexual state employees do not have the same rights, a situation that could face legal challenge.

The move, likely to affect around 300 Maryland state employees, drew some criticism. A spokesperson for gay rights group Equality Maryland said the move was unfair because the US government and most states still do not recognise same sex marriage.

“We would like to see domestic partnership benefits on the books for same-sex couples until there’s a level playing field with regard to marriage……It’s really not the most equitable thing to be doing right now.”

Meanwhile, Rhode Island yesterday became the tenth state to legalise gay marriage. Governor Lincoln Chafee signed the completed bill while activists celebrated in state capital Providence, the BBC reports.

The first same sex weddings in Rhode Island are scheduled for August 1, when the legislation will come into force.

Photo of Martin O’Malley by Chesapeake Bay Program  via Flickr under a Creative Commons licence

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