SkyWest accused of bias against gay couples

SkyWestA SkyWest Airlines baggage agent who married his partner last year after the California Supreme Court legalized same-sex unions says the airline is breaking state law by refusing to give his husband the free fares it provides to heterosexual spouses.

The airline says Gilbert Caldwell’s husband is his “travel companion,” entitled to fly at a discount but not for free, Caldwell said. “I am asking SkyWest to give me the same benefits that they give my married heterosexual co-workers.”

The case is one of the first discrimination complaints to surface by any of the 18,000 same-sex couples who married in California before the November 2008 passage of Proposition 8, which amended the state Constitution to define marriage as the union of a man and a woman.

Caldwell, 56, who has worked for SkyWest in Palm Springs since September 2004, married David Farrell, 72, his partner of 34 years, in June 2008. They had been registered domestic partners since 2002.

A SkyWest spokeswoman did not return phone messages about the case.

State law entitles same-sex spouses and domestic partners to be treated the same as heterosexual married couples in employment, housing, insurance and commerce.

SkyWest flies as a regional partner, mostly under the Delta Airlines banner in the Western U.S.

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