Partners of gay employees in the US state of Montana will be offered health insurance, according to the area’s largest health cover provider.

The domestic-partner policy from Blue Cross, which is available to big and small businesses, will be made accessible for gay and straight partners of workers from July.

Blue Cross vice president of government affairs, Tanya Ask said: “It’s something we had been looking at for some time, we wanted to make sure it could be offered as an option for employees.”

Human rights groups in Montana have praised the move, State Rep. Christine Kaufmann, D-Helena and co-director of the Montana Human Rights Network, said the change would help reduce discrimination against gay couples in the workplace.

She told the Billings Gazette, “I think (Blue Cross) knows that small businesses and groups are looking for this type of policy to provide to their employees, to be competitive in the work force.”

“For those of us who care that we live in a society that is attempting to rid itself of discrimination, this is a victory.”