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Domestic Partnership News Archive
April 01 - April 06, 2001




This page contains news for the period April 01, 2001 through April 06, 2001.





<<   April 2001  >>

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Friday, April 6, 2001

Ohio lawmaker proposes a bill to ban domestic partner benefits and gay marriages

A story published today in the Gay People's Chronicle reports that a Cincinnati legislator is planning to push a bill that would invalidate local and state domestic partner benefits as well as same-sex marriages and civil unions made in other states.

Rep. Bill Seitz, R-Cincinnati, has circulated a memo in the Statehouse soliciting co-sponsorship of a bill to declare same-sex marriages "against the strong public policy of the state" and making it "against the public policy of the state" to extend benefits of legal marriage to same-sex couples.

The "public policy" language is an attempt to go around a constitutional requirement.

"The recognition or extension of the benefits of a legal marriage to nonmarital relationships between persons of the same sex or different sexes is against the strong public policy of this state," the bill reads.

"Any public act, record, or judicial proceeding of this state that extends the benefits of legal marriage to nonmarital relationships between persons of the same sex or different sexes is void ab initio [from the beginning]."

The effect of this bill proposal would mean that cities like Cleveland could not offer domestic partner benefits because domestic partner benefits would be considered marital benefits.

It also could affect unmarried and divorced different-sex couples in addition to same-sex couples and even grand parents who seek custody or visitation rights with a child since it too might be considered marital benefits.

Once introduced, the bill will go to the Civil and Commercial Law committee, which Seitz co-chairs.

Thursday, April 5, 2001

Milwaukee committee questions same-sex partners benefits

A story published today in the Journal Sentinel reports that the Milwaukee Common Council committee voted to learn more about the legal ramifications of giving health and other benefits to same-sex couples in a contract with the city's largest labor union.

Ald. Willie Hines, a member of the Finance and Personnel Committee, requested the opinion from City Attorney Grant Langley on the benefits, a controversial piece of the contract members of District Council 48 of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees voted to approve last month.

Hines said that he requested the opinion to determine whether the city would expose itself to lawsuits by giving benefits to same-sex partners of city employees but not to unmarried opposite-sex partners of employees.

Although the council was not formally consulted, city negotiators agreed to AFSCME's request to provide same-sex benefits. Under the contract, the benefits would go to those who sign up as part of the city's same-sex registry, which is open to all residents.

The committee is expected to vote on the contract at its next meeting, May 2 while the full council would vote on May 8.

Central Michigan University extends same-sex partner benefits to nonunion employees

A story released today by the Associated Press reports that Central Michigan University is extending same-sex partner benefits to its administrators and other nonunion employees.

University president Michael Rao made the change effective July 1. It would cover 34 senior officers, 655 professional and administrative employees and 363 temporary faculty.

Most of the state universities in Michigan already offer benefits to same-sex partners. Members of the CMU faculty association began implementing same-sex partner coverage in a contract that took effect Jan. 1, 2000.

The same-sex partners of employees will be eligible to receive medical, prescription and dental insurance coverage provided:
        . The couple have had an intimate, committed relationship for at least six months and live together for at least that long.
        . They assume responsibility for each other's living expenses and medical debts.
        . Both partners are at least 18 years old.
        . Neither is married and they are not closely related by blood.

"The rates are exactly the same as traditional families," Maxine Kent, assistant vice president for human resources, told CM Life, the student newspaper.  "They will be able to sign up for two person or family rates."

"This puts us at the forefront of businesses and universities concerning domestic partner benefits," Kent told the Morning Sun of Mount Pleasant.

Tuesday, April 3, 2001

Canadian province to review Intestate Succession Act

A story published today in the National Post reports that  Alberta's government has announced that it will review a provincial legislation to ensure gays and lesbians are afforded equal protection under the law.

The announcement follows the loss yesterday of a charter challenge of its succession laws.

"A review of all of the legislation is warranted," said Bart Johnson, a spokesman for Alberta Justice. "There are plans for a review."

In an application to the Alberta Court of Queen's Bench, Brent Johnson, a gay man, contested the Intestate Succession Act, a statute governing the disbursement of estate property in cases where there is no will.

Julie Lloyd, Mr. Johnson's lawyer, argued the Act was discriminatory because it excluded same-sex couples from enjoying the same rights as heterosexual couples.

Justice Del Perras agreed, calling provisions of the provincial Act discriminatory and inconsistent with the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

"There is differential treatment, as the claimant is denied the right to access the [Act] based on his sexual orientation," he wrote in his decision.

Although Judge Perras declared the law unconstitutional, he declined an application to "read in," or specifically include, same-sex couples and suspended the law for nine months.

Mr. Johnson, the Alberta Justice spokesman, said the government was not surprised by the ruling and was "pleased the Justice suspended the declaring of the law unconstitutional to give the Alberta government the time to amend it."

"There have been a number of cases in courts across Canada, including the Supreme Court, that have resulted in same-sex couples being treated as equivalent to spouse," Mr. Johnson explained yesterday. "Based on that, we didn't feel we could successfully defend the law."

Sunday, April 1, 2001

Financial advice for unmarried couples

A story published today by the St. Petersburg Times reports that in a 1998 census report, more than 5-million unmarried couples live together in the United States. The story suggests that if one falls into this category, a couple of tips should be considered to secure benefits and protect one's money and property.

1. Seek out insurance breaks. Married couples are more likely to get discounts on their homeowners, renters and auto insurance policies. Some insurers will extend that discount to domestic partners and even to roommates. Call around and compare for a variety of quotes.

2. Inquire at your work place about domestic partner benefits. Some companies offer health benefits, pension benefits, bereavement, sick leave and other provisions to the unmarried partners of their employees. Ask your employer what's available.

3. Get a contract. When married people split up, they have a ready-made legal instrument, the divorce proceeding, to help them keep some or all of their assets. Unmarried couples don't have the same protection. Consider drawing up a written agreement about your finances, property you owned before you started living together and property you bought or inherited during your relationship.

4. Keep your finances independent. Financial advisers recommend that unmarried people maintain separate credit cards and bank accounts. Meanwhile, they say it's usually not a problem to have a joint checking account for basic household expenses.

5. Avoid co-signing. Never co-sign a loan or apply for a joint credit card unless you're prepared to assume full responsibility for that debt.

6. Read the real property titles you sign. If you want your real estate or other property to go to your partner after your death, you can title assets jointly with rights of survivorship. This approach designates both of you as owners of half the property, regardless of how much money you put into the investment.

7. Become "tenants in common" when buying a property. If you buy property together and one pays substantially more than the other, you can become tenants in common and specify who owns what percentage of the property in the deed. With this approach, the surviving partner does not have rights to the entire property.

8. Plan your estate. You must make specific provisions in your will if you want your partner to inherit your assets. Consult a lawyer who has experience with wills, trusts and the probate process.

9. Avoid estate taxes. Married spouses can transfer assets to each other tax-free. But with domestic partners, assets valued above the $675,000 exemption will be taxed up to 55 percent. To transfer money without getting zapped, one partner can make annual tax-free gifts of up to $10,000 to the other. Also, trusts can be used to transfer stocks and real estate at a tax savings.

10. Provide for a mediation or arbitration clause in your contracts. If you break up and cannot resolve financial conflicts on your own, mediation or arbitration proceedings would be faster, simpler and less costly than litigation.



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