Nancy C. is an emergency dispatcher with the Alameda County Fire Department. Nancy and her wife, a Canadian citizen, were married in Canada in October 2009.
When Nancy learned about the passage of SB 54, the California law requiring the state government to grant all the rights and benefits of marriage to same-sex couples who get married in other states or countries after November 5, 2008, she asked her employer to add her wife as a beneficiary on her health and retirement plans. The human resources department initially told her that they could not do so, after CalPERS staff incorrectly advised them that only same-sex couples who registered as domestic partners were eligible for benefits.
After NCLR advocated with the fire department, with Alameda County, and with CalPERS on Nancy’s behalf, and educating them about their responsibilities under SB 54, CalPERS modified their guidance to comply with SB 54. The Alameda County Fire Department then agreed to add Nancy’s wife as a beneficiary on all of her employee benefit plans.