Carol Stevens and Beth Goudy were legally married in Iowa. St. Luke’s hospital in the Lehigh Valley has a non-discrimination policy that says it won’t deny benefits to those in protected groups, including “sexual preference, gender identity and expression.” So you’d think Goudy would be able to join Nurse Stevens’ health plan, right? Wrong.
On Dec. 5, her request was denied. It is frustrating to be legally married in one state but not be recognized in another, Stevens said.
“This illustrates the difficult patchwork of LGTB rights in the country,” said Adrian Shanker, president of the nonprofit group Equality Pennsylvania. “You can go five minutes across the border (into New Jersey) and your relationship is now recognized by the state. You step back into Easton, you have no relationship rights.”
While the denial is within St. Luke’s legal rights, it’s leaving lesbian-gay-transgender-bisexual advocates questioning why.
“St. Luke’s created an obscure loophole to expressly deny gay employees these benefits,” said Liz Bradbury, executive director of the Pennsylvania Diversity Network in Allentown. “What’s not clear is why? Why tell the world you don’t discriminate in benefits, and then deny them?”