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Domestic Partnership News Archive
November 22 - November 30, 1999





This page contains news for the period Monday, November 22, 1999 through Tuesday, November 30, 1999.





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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 couples.

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 $400,000.

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.

Denver creates 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 states nationwide.

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 costs.

Couples will be required to notify the clerk's office if their partnerships dissolve.

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 Senior Lobby.

"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 Martinez.


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 employees.

The ordinance is the latest in a series of measures proposed by outgoing City Councilwoman Tina Podlodowski that have expanded protections for Seattle's sexual minorities.

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.


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