This page contains news for
the period Monday, November 22, 1999 through Tuesday, November 30, 1999.
November 1999 >>
Tuesday, November 30, 1999
Benefits for same-sex
partners approved in Montgomery County, Maryland
A story published today in the Washington Post
reports that the Montgomery County Council passed legislation today extending health
benefits to the same-sex partners of county employees.
The plan was approved by a vote of 6-to-3.
The county is the third jurisdiction in Maryland to adopt so-called
domestic partner benefits, following Baltimore and Takoma Park. Baltimore limits the
benefits to same-sex couples while Takoma Park's program includes same and opposite-sex
County officials estimate that only a small number of Montgomery's
8,000 county employees will include same-sex partners on their health benefits n several
hundred at most n and the annual cost to county taxpayers is estimated to be less than
The council rejected Council president Isiah Leggett's proposal to
extend health benefits to the live-in partners of heterosexual employees, largely because
those workers are allowed by law to marry. But several council members said the county
should study ways of extending partners to other family members currently excluded from
employee health benefits, including dependent relatives.
To qualify live-in partners for health benefits, county employees
must prove they have shared the same legal residence for at least one year, signing an
affidavit under penalty of perjury to support the claim.
domestic partner registry
A story published today in the Denver Post
reports that the Denver City Council approved a registry for domestic partners yesterday.
The unanimous council vote followed no public opposition and
elicited a rare standing ovation from dozens of supporters.
Denver's registry will be the second of its kind in Colorado,
modeled after similar programs in Boulder, the state of California and 35 cities in 25
To qualify, each member of the couple must be unmarried, at least 18
years old and sharing the same household with a partner who is not a blood relative. The
city's clerk and recorder's office will charge a $25 filing fee to cover administrative
Couples will be required to notify the clerk's office if their
Filing with the registry will not create any legal protections.
However, proponents say it will serve both practical and symbolic purposes.
Denverites will be able to certify their partnerships to qualify for
insurance benefits that some entities - including United Airlines, Coors and Denver city
government - offer to "domestic partners'' of their workers. The registry will give
those employers an objective standard indicating that couples are in such relationships.
Proponents also hope it will help advance rights when it comes to
visiting partners in the hospital or making medical decisions on their behalf.
"Many couples who live together often have personal
relationships and bonds that are as strong as those of married couples and who nurture and
care for one another in sickness and in health,'' the ordinance reads.
The story says the registry has been endorsed by Denver Mayor
Wellington Webb, several gay and lesbian groups, the American Civil Liberties Union of
Colorado, the Colorado National Organization for Women, Seniors Inc. and the Colorado
"This is a statement that we accept all committed relationships
in the city,'' said Ed Thomas, one of the council members who have been working toward
starting a registry for the past several years.
"It's a matter of human dignity,'' added Councilwoman Ramona
Tuesday, November 23, 1999
Seattle is latest city to
mandate domestic partner benefits for city contractors
An article published today in the Seattle Times reports that the
Seattle City Council has passed an ordinance requiring its major contractors to provide
their employees with domestic partners the same benefits as they provide to their married
The ordinance is the latest in a series of measures proposed by
outgoing City Councilwoman Tina Podlodowski that have expanded protections for Seattle's
The new law, which won unanimous approval yesterday from the City
Council, will apply only to companies with contracts worth more than $33,000.
The proposal drew little opposition from the business community and
only a handful of critics who found it morally objectionable. An estimated 700 to 1,000
firms will be affected by the new law.
The city will phase the law in over the next 10 months to give
contractors enough time to comply with the new requirements.
To be eligible for the benefits, the couple must sign up with the
city's domestic partnership registry or meet the company's own requirements.