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Domestic Partnership News Archive
March 07 - March 13, 2001

 

 

 
 

This page contains news for the period March 07, 2001 through March 13, 2001.

 

 

 

 

<<   March 2001  >>

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Wednesday, March 13, 2001

Wrongful-death bill for domestic partners approved by committee in California

A story by the Associated Press reports that gay couples and others registered as domestic partners could recover wrongful-death damages under a measure endorsed by the Assembly Judiciary Committee of the California Legislature.

The bill expanding domestic partner rights was given added impetus by the dog mauling death of San Francisco lacrosse coach Diane Whipple, whose partner, Sharon Smith, filed a wrongful-death lawsuit this week.

Smith told lawmakers that it ``added insult to injury'' to learn that current law disallowed domestic partners to recover damages in wrongful-death cases.

``Diane and I planned to share the rest of our lives together,'' she said. ``I'm here to request that you remember her and acknowledge what she was to me.''

The committee voted 8-1 to advance the bill, sponsored by Democratic Assemblywoman Carole Migden of San Francisco.

Whipple, 33, was fatally mauled in January by two dogs as she tried to enter her apartment. Smith filed the lawsuit against San Francisco lawyers Robert Noel and Marjorie Knoller, who kept the dogs in their apartment.

If approved by the legislature, Migden's bill would not be retroactive but would apply to future cases. Smith said she still will ask the state courts to recognize her and Whipple as a couple.

Critics believe that the measure attempts to undermine Proposition 22, an initiative approved by a majority of California voters last year that defined marriage as a solely male-female union.

``It's an end-run around the voters, it's an end-run around marriage,'' said Randy Thomasson, executive director of the Campaign for California Families.


Friday, March 9, 2001

State benefits awarded to Maine domestic partners

A story published today by Blethen Maine Newspapers Inc. reports that same-sex and opposite-sex domestic partners of Maine state government employees will be eligible to receive publicly funded  health-insurance benefits starting July 1.

The State Employee Health Commission, a group that determines health insurance policies for state employees, approved the change weeks ago, and Gov. Angus King let it stand. 

Maine's finance commissioner, Janet E. Waldron, said the new domestic-partner benefit would cost the state little. "It's a very small number so it doesn't have any real financial implications," she said.

Waldron said she believes that the change will not be controversial and felt no obligation to tell lawmakers about the change. "I think it's really an equity issue," she said.

Carl Leinonen, executive director of the Maine State Employees Association, said unmarried state employees have been contacting his organization for years asking for health insurance coverage for domestic partners, many of whom are heterosexual.

Leinonen, whose union is represented on the State Employee Health Commission, said he expects fewer than 100 unmarried domestic partners of state employees to sign up for the health insurance program, estimating that it will increase the cost less than 1 percent.

Waldron conceded that critics like Michael Heath, executive director of the Christian Civic League of Maine who has begun an effort to convince legislators to overturn the decision can seek to block the new benefit in the Legislature. "The commission has the authority to enter into contractual relationships (with insurance companies). The Legislature could choose not to fund it."

Rep. Tom J. Winsor, R-Norway, a member of the Appropriations Committee, said he knew nothing about the change, even though it had been approved by the commission nearly two months ago.

"I'm wondering how I can go back home and raise taxes to pay for that,"Winsor said. "I don't believe a public entity doing it is the same as a private company with profits and stockholders. . . . I'm surprised with the cost of health care going up dramatically that we're adding people to it."

Winsor said he would prefer to have people enter a traditional marriage, and worries about the direction society is taking. But he said blocking funding for the entire state employee health-insurance plan would be difficult. 

 

Thursday, March 8, 2001

Tribune Company enacts domestic partner benefits

Tribune Co., one of the nation's largest media companies now has domestic partner benefits and has added sexual orientation to the company's nondiscrimination policy.

Many members of the National Lesbian and Gay Journalists Association (NLGJA) at Tribune/Times Mirror properties nationwide have been lobbying extensively for the coverage and for inclusion in the nondiscrimination policy.

According to the new Tribune Co., same-sex and opposite sex domestic partners are eligible for health benefits. However, no new adult dependents (such as a parent) will be allowed in the plan. The Times Mirror plan had covered adult dependents, and those who are already enrolled under Times Mirror when Tribune Co. bought it will be grandfathered in.

To qualify for domestic partner benefits under the Tribune Company's plan, one must "have an exclusive, committed relationship of mutual caring that has lasted continuously for at least 12 months and is expected to last indefinitely." One must also "sign a Domestic Partner Affidavit and a tax declaration and submit them to your local human resources representative."

 

 

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