WA State Requires Insurance Parity for Gay Spouses

OLYMPIA, Wash. (AP) -- Washington state officials are reminding companies in the state that health benefits must be provided to same-sex spouses if they are provided to heterosexual spouses.

Washington state Attorney General Bob Ferguson, Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler and Human Rights Commission Executive Director Sharon Ortiz on Thursday released a joint letter to the state's employers, insurance companies and benefit plan administrators regarding health care benefits for same-sex married couples.

Officials said they released the letter to provide clarity on state laws following a recent investigation by Ferguson's office of O'Reilly Automotive Inc. that resulted in the company's agreement to extend health benefits to same-sex spouses.

Washington state voters approved same-sex marriage in 2012, and the law took effect that year.  Protections against discrimination based on sexual orientation were codified by the Legislature in 2006.