RICHMOND - Starting next year, retail giant Wal-Mart will offer health insurance benefits to same-sex couples and domestic partners.
Wal-Mart is the second largest employer in the U.S. behind only the federal government.
It's something that some people in the area are calling a big step in the right direction.
"It doesn't matter how big or small your company is," says Richmond Business Alliance President Justin Ayars. "If you're engaged in a local, national or regional economy you need qualified employees no matter what it is your business does, so if you do not extend those types of benefits to all employees you're going to lose out on a large quantity of the workforce."
The announcement comes just a few months after the Supreme Court overturned the Defense of Marriage Act that defined marriage as between a man and woman.
"The GLBT community is a large part of their customer base, we pay taxes, we spend our money," says Bill Harrison, Executive Director of the Gay Community Foundation. "Just like everyone else and our relationships as verified by the Supreme Court ruling are worthy of such support."
The new benefits, which employees can enroll in starting October 1, apply to same sex couples as well as domestic partners of opposite genders, living together and in a committed relationship for at least a year.
"When large companies, or large law firms or any other large business does something, smaller companies tend to listen to that and hopefully this will resonate throughout the business community," Harrison says.
Copyright 2013 by Young Broadcasting of Richmond