Home Box Office has joined a small but growing number of entertainment companies extending health coverage to same-sex domestic partners.“The more we learned about the issue, the more the inequity of denying this coverage became apparent,” said Michael Fuchs, chair and CEO of HBO. “HBO is strongly opposed to any form of discrimination, including discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.” Following MCA, Viacom MCA/Universal and Viacom Intl. Inc. were among the first to adopt such policies. The Writers Guild of America, West, the Directors Guild of America, Sony Pictures Entertainment and the Walt Disney Co. are considering similar policies. The HBO policy coverage will be implemented in July. It will be based on a model document drawn up by Hollywood Supports, a nonprofit group founded by several Hollywood exex to counter workplace fears and discrimination on the basis of HIV status and sexual orientation. “HBO’s action shows that sexual-orientation-neutral benefits policies are becoming the standard among this country’s most influential and highly regarded employers,” noted Richard Jennings, exec director of Hollywood Supports. WGAW eying policy The WGAW’s governing board unanimously approved a recommendation to its health and pension fund to institute such a policy, which is only advisory in nature. Fund directors are due to look at the issue at their July meeting, Jennings said. He recently discussed the matter with the officials from the Screen Actors Guild, who have taken it under consideration. Representatives from HBO’s parent Time Warner Inc. could not be reached for comment on whether other units of the media giant would adopt a similar policy.
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