Supermarket giant Publix is now offering full insurance benefits to married same-sex couples.
According to an internal memo, the Lakeland-based company will expand coverage for its health, dental and vision benefit plans for employees married in any state where same-sex marriage is legal, regardless of the laws where the worker currently lives.
“I think Publix is pushing in the right direction by giving same-sex couples benefits heterosexual couples receive because marriage equality can only proceed if it is legally and socially accepted,” said Juan Escobar, a 22-year-old UF mechanical engineering senior.
With this change, the company joins the list of corporations that offer benefits for same-sex couples, including Disney, Winn-Dixie, General Motors and Wal-Mart.
“Publix is such a big part of Florida that it’s a really great step for our state,” said Gabriella Larios, a 19-year-old women’s studies sophomore and cabinet director of Student Government’s LGBT Student Affairs. “It’s a way to attract more people to work there because of greater benefits.”
Publix is holding an enrollment period running from Jan. 1 to the end of the month for same-sex married employees.
Just like heterosexual couples, Publix employees must have their marriage certificates and will be required to answer certain questions, including whether they use tobacco products, the statement read.
Publix owns more than 1,000 grocery stores in Alabama, Georgia, Tennessee, North Carolina, South Carolina and Florida. The only states that have a Publix and have legalized same-sex marriage are North Carolina and, most recently, Florida.
“I think there will definitely be some controversy, but not big enough to discourage others,” Larios said. “Plus, now with marriage equality in Florida, more companies will have an incentive to provide benefits.”