Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Domestic Partner Benefits Granted to County Employees

Posted By on Wed, Feb 5, 2014 at 11:48 AM

Following a unanimous Commissioners Court vote yesterday, partners of Bexar County employees are now able to receive benefits, including health, vision, dental, and life insurance, reported Texas Public Radio. Dubbed the “Plus One Qualifying Adult” benefits package, the move comes as a response to an April 2013  Attorney General opinion that ruled against extending benefits to unmarried or same-sex couples in Texas, based on the state's anti-marriage equality laws. The policy, modeled on a similar measure in El Paso, works around the ruling, omitting mention of domestic partners.

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Commissioners Court approves domestic partner benefits via Bexar County

"Whether it’s a man-woman, man-man, woman-woman, whatever. It’s their business, their private life, but they have a right to be treated equally," County Judge Nelson Wolff said, according to TPR.

Wolff alluded to his advocacy for domestic partner benefits and equality at the County-level in general during his re-election campaign kick-off event last month, the Current previously reported. “Bexar County needs to do a better job of enhancing equal opportunity training to include sexual orientation and gender identity issues,” said Wolff at the time.

The benefits package drew support from Republican Kevin Wolff, who said he approved the measure based on its fiscal and competitive impact. Overall, the largely smooth process drew a stark contrast to the uproar during City Council's LGBT non-discrimination policy debate— met with heavy opposition from socially conservative members of council and the community. It also contrasted with the City's own debate over domestic partner policies in 2011. While finally approved by an 8-3 vote, the debate saw heated backlash from the religious right.

A date for when the benefits will be enacted for the county's 4,000 employees has yet to be announced.

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