State Farm To Offer Same-Sex Benefits Thanks To Illinois Civil Unions Law

05/16/2011 04:12 pm ET | Updated Jul 16, 2011

Starting on June 1, the state of Illinois will recognize civil unions, extending a new set of legal rights to same-sex couples statewide thanks to a law that passed last winter.

As a result of that new legislation, the fourth-largest company in the state has announced a change in its benefits policy.

State Farm Insurance announced last Friday that it will begin extending healthcare and other benefits to the same-sex partners of its employees, according to an Associated Press report.

The changes will take effect on the same day as the new law, and will apply to the company's 68,000 employees nationwide. Coverage will now be extended to partners in same-sex marriages, civil unions, domestic partnerships and other similar legal relationships existing in over a dozen states.

According to, the company was not required by the new law to change its policy as completely as it did, but executives at State Farm felt it only fair to provide equal coverage across the board.

At the last count of the Human Rights Campaign in mid-2009, 59 percent of Fortune 500 companies had similar policies. That includes such big Illinois employers as Archer Daniels Midland and Walgreens. Caterpillar, another of the state's largest employers, does not currently provide such benefits.