Bellevue council OKs domestic-partner benefits
After a lawsuit and years of lobbying by gay-rights advocates, the Bellevue City Council on Monday night approved employment benefits for...
Seattle Times Eastside bureau
After a lawsuit and years of lobbying by gay-rights advocates, the Bellevue City Council on Monday night approved employment benefits for partners of gay city employees.
The 7-0 vote means that domestic partners — straight and gay — will receive the same benefits the city now provides to married partners. These benefits include medical, dental, vision and life insurance and family leave.
It will probably be two or three months before domestic partners receive the benefits. The council's vote changed city law, but the human-resources department still has to implement the changes.
Lambda Legal, a national gay-rights group, sued the city in April on behalf of three gay city employees who said they were unable to get time off to attend family funerals or pay for health care for their partners.
In the days after the lawsuit was filed, Bellevue city leaders said they hadn't approved domestic-partner benefits because they were too expensive. But a week later, Mayor Grant Degginger said the city would provide the benefits, adding it had always been interested but just hadn't acted quickly enough.
Lambda Legal said it would drop the lawsuit if the city adopted equal benefits for all employees, regardless of sexual orientation.
Bellevue now joins many other public employers in Washington that offer domestic-partner benefits, including the state, Seattle, Burien, Spokane and King and Snohomish counties.
In April, Gov. Christine Gregoire signed a bill that creates a domestic-partnership registry with the state for same-sex and unmarried older couples. The bill will provide some rights already extended to married couples, including hospital visitation and the ability to inherit a partner's property without a will.
Ashley Bach: 206-464-2567 or firstname.lastname@example.org
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