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Proposal Aims To Extend Benefits To Same-Sex Couples

An Evansville City councilman is proposing an ordinance that would extend job benefits to city employees in same-sex relationships.
An Evansville City councilman is proposing an ordinance that would extend job benefits to city employees in same-sex relationships. Councilman Jonathan Weaver, D-At Large, recently asked council attorney Scott Danks to draft the ordinance.

"We want to be one of the first cities in Indiana to be inclusive," said Weaver. "We want to give the option of city benefits to same-sex couples. Again, it's in the very initial planning stages, we're open for discussion."

Such a policy may be somewhat uncharted territory for a municipality, but for many corporations it's becoming the norm. Weaver notes the Teamsters union, which has a number of major contracts with the city, now offers benefits to same-sex couples. "It possibly justifies the ordinance even more," said Weaver.

Weaver says the ordinance would extended benefits to city employees who are in a same-sex marriage or civil union recognized in another state. Details beyond that have yet to be decided.

"I think we need to look at local companies, borrow their company handbook to see how they do it and we'll model the city's after theirs," said Weaver.

While some council members say they need more details before they form a solid opinion on the matter, others say it's a progressive step in the right direction.

"My concern is, like anything, is the added cost that would go on the city because our health care cost has obviously been rising every year," said Council President John Friend, D-4th Ward. He says he'd be interested in seeing more research into how area company policies handle similar benefits policies.

"Non-traditional unions are becoming the norm," said Dan McGuinn, R-1st Ward. "The number of people of the same sex or opposite sex that are co-habitating, that number keeps rising and eventually that will be the majority of couples and so we have to adapt our formulas, our benefits, we have to change with the times. And we will do that."

The proposal will be formally presented to council once it's drafted. Weaver hopes the ordinance will go into effect next year.
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