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Same-Sex Pairs Now Covered Via AGMA

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The health plan of the American Guild of Musical Artists (AGMA) now covers partners in same-sex marriages.

On Dec. 7, the trustees of AGMA's Health and Retirement Plans adopted a provision that redefines "spouses." The new definition includes "same sex couples who are married under the laws of any jurisdiction or state without regard to the state in which they reside," the union said in a press release last week.

"Our union, the opera and ballet companies that employ AGMA artists, and all of our Health and Retirement Plan trustees have always taken the lead in accommodating the interests of AGMA's membership and the plan's participants," said Alan Gordon, AGMA's national executive director and the plans' principal union trustee. "We have long recognized the appropriateness of providing health insurance coverage for domestic partners, and extending that coverage to any of our members who are legally married in any state or country is the logical extension of that policy."

Mark Weinstein, chairman of the trustee board and executive director of the Pittsburgh Opera, added to Gordon's view: "Our position is that legally married couples are entitled to the same fundamental right of access to healthcare regardless of their sex or the state where they reside."

AGMA represents opera singers, ballet dancers, and production personnel in the United States. A board of six union trustees and six management trustees oversees the plans. Employer trustees come from the Pittsburgh Opera, New York City Ballet, Lyric Opera of Chicago, and the Pacific Northwest Ballet. Union trustees include singers from the Lyric Opera and San Francisco Opera, dancers from New York City Ballet and New York City Opera, and AGMA attorneys.

Jackie Dowling, the plan administrator, said she did not know how many participants would be affected by the change, which goes into effect immediately.

Other Unions' Coverage

Back Stage asked Actors' Equity Association, the Screen Actors Guild, and the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists to define their benefits plans' current policies on same-sex-partner coverage.

"The Equity-League Trust Funds provide health coverage through CIGNA HealthCare only to eligible participants," David Lotz, Equity's press spokesman, told Back Stage via email on Monday. "The member must pay premiums for the coverage of dependents—there is no free 'family' coverage. Domestic partners of participants are eligible for self-pay health coverage on the same basis as current dependent coverage. The Funds require proof of domestic partner status via affidavit." Information is available at the benefits website, www.equityleague.org.

According to the SAG-Producers Health Plan website, the plan covers qualified domestic partners of SAG members. "The rules regarding coverage of domestic partners are similar to the rules that apply to other dependents of participants, although there are several important distinctions," the site states. The site covers those distinctions at www.sagph.org.

The AFTRA Health and Retirement Funds website includes an 88-page document reviewing health coverage. It states that domestic partners of fund members are covered beginning on the first day of the month following filing of appropriate documents. Those documents verify the domestic partnership. The funds' website is www.aftrahr.com.

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