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Domestic Partnership News Archive
August 14 - August 20, 2001




This page contains news for the period August 14, 2001 through August 20, 2001.




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Monday, August 20, 2001

City of Decatur, Georgia to offer domestic partner benefits to city employees

A story published today by the Atlanta Journal and Constitution reports that Georgia’s Decatur city commissioners are scheduled to vote tonight whether to offer the partners of gay and lesbian city employees the same benefits available to the spouses of married employees.

If the commission approves a "domestic partnership" benefits package, Decatur would become the second city in the state to approve the benefits. Atlanta approved domestic partner benefits in 1993.

Decatur's plan, however, only includes gay and lesbian employees, not unmarried heterosexuals. "We're trying to keep from offering benefits to someone who could get married but does not, and to offer benefits to someone who would get married but can't," said Mayor Bill Floyd.

Health insurance and funeral leaves of absence are the two types of benefits most likely to be affected by extending them to partners rather than just legal spouses. Already, city employees can assign retirement benefits to anyone they choose.

Seventy-four of Decatur's 209 employees might be eligible for domestic partner benefits, Cassondra Breedlove, the city's personnel officer, told commissioners at an Aug. 6 work session on the subject.

Nationwide, 3,572 companies, governments and schools offer domestic-partner benefits, according to Chernoff Diamond & Co., a benefits firm. Almost two-thirds of those offer them to both unmarried heterosexual and homosexual couples.

Thursday, August 16, 2001

Acting Massachusetts governor extends same-sex benefits to state workers

A story released today by the Associated Press reports that acting Gov. Jane M. Swift, who was criticized by her gay stepson for opposing gay marriage, says she is extending some domestic partnership benefits to gay and lesbian state workers.

Swift said Wednesday that her administration had already extended benefits for same-sex couples to government social workers, and other workers would get the benefits when their contracts are negotiated over the next two years.

Swift said her support for domestic partnership benefits is ``a position that I think had been well-established, and a position that I'm comfortable with.'' But she reiterated her opposition to gay marriage.

``In my mind, the sanctity of marriage requires that it be confined to marriage between a man and a woman,'' she said.

Domestic partner benefits to be extended to the state's 70,000 employees include leave to care for an ill partner, bereavement leave if a partner dies and paid time off for court appearances or counseling for victims of domestic violence.

The benefits do not include health insurance, which would require an appropriation from the state Legislature.

Wednesday, August 15, 2001

North Carolina woman insists ‘family’ rate should apply to non-traditional families

A story published today by Charlotte.com reports that a North Carolina woman is questioning membership policies at the Huntersville Community Center because of the way officials define "family."

Beverly Mitzel says the facility's pricing schedule is unfair because restrictions on what constitutes a family keep some households from qualifying for discounts.

Mitzel recently brought her concerns to town commissioners and asked them to adopt a more inclusive policy.

Because Mitzel and Austin are the same sex, their household is not eligible for the center's family discount. Their membership cost might be as much as $130 per month, compared to $65 that other families pay.

"The definition of a family is very different in today's society," Mitzel says. "I think the board needs to look at circumstances for each household, or for nontraditional family situations."

When Mitzel bought a membership last April, she assumed it would include her entire household and didn't anticipate a problem. She says she was forthright and open with the Community Center staff at the time.

In fact, Mitzel's family membership may be honored because it already had been grandfathered in because it had been approved. But other nontraditional family memberships would likely be denied under the current guidelines, she says.

"I am not trying to be the poster mom for alternative lifestyles, but you do what you have to do," Mitzel says.

She said there are many types of nontraditional families that may not be eligible - unmarried seniors living together to keep Social Security benefits separate, gay and lesbian couples, blended families after divorces, foster parenting and remarriage.

Commissioners have taken no action.

At the suggestion of commissioner Jill Swain, the board has asked the Park and Recreation Advisory Board to reevaluate the issue.

"I think we need to do some more research and be more thorough in what our decisions are to be," Swain says.

Town Manager Jerry Cox said comments from the Advisory Board may be presented to commissioners as early as Monday.



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