Delta is a long-time supporter of gay rights. So it was with great enthusiasm that CEO Richard Anderson greeted the news today that the U.S. Supreme Court ruled marriage bans are not constitutional, overturning all bans and declaring same-sex couples can wed in the U.S.
“As a global airline that celebrates the diversity of our employees and customers, Delta has been a longstanding supporter of gay rights and we applaud the Supreme Court’s decision today to ensure the fundamental right to marriage for everyone,” he said.
Delta is among hundreds of companies that have signed legal briefs urging the Supreme Court to strike down laws banning same-sex marriage.
“This is a historic day in the civil rights journey of our country. Delta’s same sex couples in loving, committed relationships can now enjoy the same benefits of marriage as opposite sex couples, regardless of which state they call home,” said Brian Smith, President of the Delta Employee Equality Network. “Today I have renewed pride as an American citizen as the supreme court of our land demonstrated that inclusion, not exclusion, is humanity’s truth. Delta has long demonstrated this truth by its commitment to a culture of inclusion.”
For more than a decade, Delta has provided benefits and privileges to same-sex spouses and same-sex domestic partners of its U.S.-based employees, including health benefits, optional insurances, survivor income and pass travel.
Since Sept. 26, 2013, in conjunction with the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision, Delta recognized and implemented equal spousal benefits for those who are legally married from a federal perspective – regardless of which state the employee lives in.
Delta’s support of gay couples was underscored again earlier this year by its decision to become the first major airline to cover tax costs associated with same-sex domestic partner healthcare benefits. The tax is a problem for employees living in states, such as Georgia, that do not recognize same-sex marriages. Delta employees in these states have to pay extra taxes based on the value of the insurance. About 40 other major companies nationwide offer similar benefits to same-sex couples, advocates say.
“Delta is deeply committed to diversity and inclusion for all our people,” said Greg Tahvonen, Vice President – Total Rewards and Global HR. “It is a key theme of Rules of the Road (Delta's statement of core values) and something that makes our company stronger and more vibrant, and better able to serve our diverse customers throughout the globe. Today, we are pleased with the court’s decision to fully legalize same-sex marriage in all states and jurisdictions. As a result of this decision, Delta will be able to provide an equitable benefits package to all Delta people.”
In the next few weeks, Delta will communicate directly to impacted employees to inform them of the impact of the court ruling.
For years, Delta and its employees have continued to build and expand its strong relationship with the LGBT community around the world. Delta has a longstanding tradition of celebrating regional Pride events in cities nationwide including Atlanta, Detroit, Los Angeles, Minneapolis/St. Paul, New York City and Seattle. This year the airline is supporting six events, including events this weekend in New York, Minneapolis/St. Paul and Seattle.
In 2010 and 2011, the company was designated as one of the Human Rights Campaign's "Best Places To Work" for LGBT employees, and it continues to earn near-perfect scores on HRC's Corporate Equality Index.
Earlier this month, Anderson spoke to a group of 70 employees at an event organized by Delta Employee Equality Network.
“The law should be that we’re equal regardless of who we love in this life,” Anderson said. “That shouldn’t be a question – that should be a fundamental right. At Delta, we always try to be a leader and are very clear about our support. I believe the tide is really powerful right now and I’m optimistic for what’s to come.”