This page contains news for
the period Monday, November 15, 1999 through Sunday, November 21, 1999.
November 1999 >>
Saturday, November 20, 1999
gym in Fort Lauderdale won't give spousal discount to domestic partners
An article published today in the Miami herald reports that Bally's
Total Fitness in Broward County, Florida will not give its spousal membership discount to
domestic partners even though it does so in New York, San Francisco, and Washington D.C.
The story says that when Bally's recently offered customers a
special discount to sign up ''spouses'' as members, Donna Watson figured she would sign up
her same-sex partner as a birthday gift. They have registered under a new domestic
partnership law in Broward County.
No way, said the folks at the Fort Lauderdale Bally's on Sunrise
Boulevard. When she showed them her county-issued domestic partnership card, they laughed,
according to Watson, then referred her up the corporate chain of command.
The story says that Watson, a 39-year-old Fort Lauderdale
chiropractor, called the 1-800 number for Bally's
and said a mid-level supervisor told her: "Forget it. We don't
care if she is your family. We don't honor it.''
Curiously, Bally's told The Herald and Watson it does extend
discounts to domestic partners in three other U.S. locales -- San Francisco, Manhattan and
Washington, D.C. But not in Florida.
The story says that some companies have recognized
domestic partnerships, including two Bally's competitors: The Fitness Company and Gold's
Thursday, November 18, 1999
Prudential offers domestic
A story published today by Gay Financial Network reports that
Prudential Insurance Co. of America, the nations largest life insurer, plans to
extend health benefits to the domestic partners of its workforce.
The New Jersey-based privately held company, which employs more than
60,000 people worldwide and holds more than $375 billion in total assets, will now
designate domestic partners as "qualified adults." The plan will include
unmarried partners of its employees to be eligible for benefits, as well as other
dependents, such as elderly live-in relatives.
Prudential, which hasnt publicly announced its new policy, is
still working out the details about the new benefits package, which takes effect in on
Jan. 1. Employees are now in a period of open enrolment in the program
Statewide domestic partner
bill clears Massachusetts Senate
An article published today in Bay Windows reports that a
domestic-partnership (DP) bill that would extend health insurance benefits to the
unmarried partners of state employees, and allow similar laws to be passed at the
municipal level without first needing legislative approval passed by the full Senate on a
voice vote on Nov. 16.
Sponsored by state Sen. Dianne Wilkerson, D-Boston, the bill was
almost dead on arrival when state Sen. Marian Walsh, D-Boston, threatened to offer a
so-called "extended family" amendment that would have extended the definition of
domestic partners in the bill to include virtually any two people who are living together.
But Walsh ended up re-writing the amendment so that the definition of domestic partners
would be studied further, while the bill passed without the expanded definition of
The article says that the state Legislature was scheduled to finish
its formal session on Nov. 17, the day Bay Windows goes to press. It then goes into
informal session on Nov. 18, during which time no bill deemed controversial will be taken
up until 2000.
Informed sources told Bay Windows they expect the DP bill won't be
taken up in the House until next year, where they expect more difficulty.
Even if passed by the House next year, activists then face the
threat of a governor's veto, since Gov. Paul Cellucci has publicly stated he would only
support a DP bill that limits the DP benefits to same-sex partners.
Last year, the Republican governor vetoed a
different DP measure because the benefits - similar to Wilkerson's bill now under
consideration - were not restricted to same-sex couples.
Wednesday, November 17, 1999
committee approves equal benefits law
A committee of the Seattle City Council has
approved, on a vote of 5 to 1, an ordinance which would require companies doing business
with the city to provide domestic partner benefits to their employees if they provide
benefits to spouses of employees.
This information was obtained from the office of
Seattle City Councilmember Richard Conlin, A co-sponsor of the bill.
The measure will come before the full city council
later this month for final approval.
Los Angeles City Council
passes a city contractor law requiring equal benefits for domestic partners
The Los Angeles City Council today voted 12 to 0 to adopt an
"Equal Benefits Ordinance" similar to one enacted two years ago by San
The law will require any company signing a contract with the city in
the amount of $5,000 or more to give domestic partner benefits to its own employees if the
company gives benefits to spouses of employees.
The measure defines "domestic partners" as two adults who
are living together and who agree to be jointly responsible for the common necessities of
life, provided they are registered as domestic partners with an employer or with a
Thomas F. Coleman, executive director of the American Association
for Single People, witnessed the historic event.
"The seed for this was planted in 1985," Coleman observed.
That was the year that Michael Woo was elected to the city council.
Coleman convinced Woo to convene the Los Angeles City Task Force on
Family Diversity. The 38-member Task Force conducted a two year study of family life
in Los Angeles and issued a landmark report in May of 1988.
Among its recommendations were several dealing with domestic
partnership rights. The Task Force also recommended that the city contractor
nondiscrimination law be amended to prohibit marital status discrimination by city
The city began to implement these recommendations on a piecemeal
basis starting in October 1988 when the council granted sick and bereavement leave to city
employees if a domestic partner were to become ill or die.
Over the years, health, dental, vision, and retirement benefits were
added for domestic partners of city employees. Coleman and others worked with City
Councilmember Jackie Goldberg to obtain these benefits. Goldberg replaced Woo on the
council in 1993.
The vote today was initially 11 to 1, with three members absent.
However, when it came up for reconsideration, the sole dissenting vote was absent
and the measure passed unanimously with 12 votes and three absences. As a result, it
will go directly to the mayor for his approval. If approved, it will become law on
January 1, 2000.
Legislature bans domestic partner benefits at state colleges
An article published today in the Pittsburgh
Post-Gazette reports that the state Legislature yesterday rushed through a measure banning
same-sex health benefits for employees of state-financed colleges and universities.
The measure also exempts the colleges and universities from any
local ordinance that requires the provision of same-sex benefits.
The story said the senate quietly passed the bill in an unscheduled
vote yesterday afternoon and slid it over to the House, which an hour later concurred in
another unscheduled vote.
"These guys trip over themselves to vote against gays and
lesbians," fumed Larry Frankel, executive director of the American Civil Liberties
Union's state chapter.
Gov. Ridge said he would sign the measure, which would take effect
The measure appeared to pre-empt a legal challenge to the University
of Pittsburgh's refusal to provide health benefits to same-sex partners of its faculty and
staff. The challenge had been brought under the City of Pittsburgh's gay rights law, which
prohibits discrimination based on sexual orientation.
The ACLU plans to fight the measure in court, Frankel said.
The story said the legislation was rushed through an unprepared
General Assembly by Republican leaders. It was unclear yesterday who crafted the measure.
The governor apparently had reviewed the wording ahead of time.
The measure, House Bill 515, was originally drafted to establish
training requirements for chiefs of police. The bill was passed by the House several
months ago and sent to the Senate.
Yesterday, Senate Republican leaders allowed the bill to be gutted
and new language inserted to ban same-sex benefits. The bill also shields the
state-financed schools from any municipal ordinance that could force them to provide the
Cal State Panel OKs
Giving Health Benefits to Domestic Partners
A story published today in the Los Angeles
Times reports that yesterday a panel of Trustees at California State University approved
health benefits for same-sex partners of university employees and for opposite-sex
"domestic partners" 62 or older. The panel also recommended that domestic
partners should receive the same dental and vision coverage offered to employees' spouses.
Democratic Gov. Gray Davis signed Assembly Bill 26 last month which
establishes a procedure to implement domestic partner benefits for state employees. The
bill, however, limited eligibility to same-sex partners of any age and unmarried
heterosexual couples if both parties are over the age of 62.
The Cal State trustees panel on Tuesday granted approval with little
discussion, said Colleen Bentley-Adler, a Cal State spokeswoman. "It's a sign of the
times," she said. "It's pretty much becoming standard across the state."
However, what the story does not say is that what is standard across
the state for local government employees is gender-neutral domestic partnership programs
which are open to all unmarried couples regardless of age or gender.
The story said that Cal State officials have no estimate on how many
of its 40,000 professors, administrators and other employees would sign up for such health
benefits, or what the expanded coverage would cost. Typically, fewer than 1% of university
employees sign up for such benefits.
Update: According to a report from a faculty member at the
university, the full Board of Trustees today approved the benefits plan.