The latest company to join the bandwagon of those extending employee benefits to same-sex couples just so happens to be the largest and highest profile. Walmart, the world-largest private employer announced in August, that couples “living together in an ongoing, exclusive, committed relationship — similar to marriage — for at least 12 months” now will receive health care benefits if their partner is a full-time employee.
The move, which reportedly came in response to pressure from so-called “gay rights” activists, was lauded as a “historic action.” Indeed it is. While it is unsure how many people this will affect (Walmart has more than 1 million workers, with half reported to be enrolled in its health care plan), the move is significant mostly in what it represents.
While many Christians who have faithfully shopped at Walmart for decades are alarmed at the company’s compliance with the push for “same-sex marriage,” what is going almost unnoticed is that the company is, perhaps inadvertently, undermining marriage in a much more direct way.
Walmart’s benefits for same-sex and married couples are available to those who are merely cohabiting. Therein lies the largest problem. The debate still rages whether homosexual couples can successfully raise children (though we who are approaching the issue from a Biblical standpoint know where it will necessarily lead). The debate is closed, however, on the matter of cohabitation. It is decidedly bad for children.
Children in homes of cohabitation are more likely to be abused, less likely to graduate from high school and are more likely to become sexually active (“Monkey see, monkey do”), as NPR reported as recently as 2011. This comes as little surprise, as cohabitation arrangements are inherently unstable.
According to the Baptist Press, “Walmart previously had offered benefits to domestic partners of employees,” but only in states that required the company to do so by law. In this latest policy move, Walmart has effectively made cohabitation an equal option to marriage.
Many believe Walmart founder Sam Walton would be ashamed to know that his company would do anything to harm children. And rewarding men and women who, to use an old term, “shack up,” with the same benefits of those who do not is tantamount to child mistreatment. Walmart should remember the law of unintended consequences. While the company many have scored some short-term political points and a publicity boost with this move, the long-term implications may likely cause the social fabric to tear apart even more quickly—like a cheaply made shirt.