According to an article by YES! Weekly, Greensboro is set to have domestic partner benefits for same-sex partners of city employees by at least January 2007.
Jordon Green’s article in YES! Weekly focuses on the apparent support for the move by city officials and their willingness to support not only good business practices, but also support for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender citizens of the City:
Sound business practices and a desire to demonstrate acceptance of gays and lesbians are two reasons council members say they support the policy. Despite strident objection from some observers, Greensboro is set to join Durham, Chapel Hill, Carrboro and Orange County as it quietly adds unmarried same-sex couples and their partners to its health plan.
City Manager Mitchell Johnson declined to offer a timetable for making domestic partnership benefits available, but in an Aug. 23 interview with YES! Weekly said the policy change could take effect as early as January, when the city traditionally signs up new members for its healthcare plan. Echoing reports by officials in Durham and Chapel Hill, Johnson said the cost of expanding coverage would likely be minimal because a relatively small group of new subscribers would be expected to qualify.
“It’s I guess a significant policy issue, but it’s not a significant financial issue,” he said. “The people who are concerned about it for religious reasons – that’s not something I’m able to get into. The city wants to be in a progressive position and we want to compete with other progressive companies. From a recruitment position, that’s what we need to do. It’s a business decision when you boil it down.”
Johnson said the city is committed to offering the benefits, but the city’s legal and human resources departments still need to iron out some details before a final plan can be drawn up.
“The Human Relations Commission has been pushing this for years,” Johnson said. “Frankly, I have gotten some pretty clear language from the School of Government [at UNC-Chapel Hill] that says the manager has the legal right to do it. I looked at a staff presentation and made the decision to move ahead with this.”
YAY! Greensboro is once again proving itself to be a welcoming, accepting place for LGBT North Carolinians. Now… let’s get Winston-Salem to jump on board and the Triad will truly be a great place!
One thing, though… In my honest, personal (aka, not connected to any group or organization) opinion, I truly feel as though the city should offer these new benefits to both same-sex and opposite-sex couples. Taking the higher ground for equality is better than limiting rights and benefits. LGBT people don’t want to be discriminated against in marriage, so straight people shouldn’t be discriminated against in domestic partnerships either. Even without the inclusion of opposite-sex couples in the plan, that isn’t reason enough to stop it from going forward. The City could change the plan at anytime to include opposite-sex couples.