Artvoice: Buffalo's #1 Newsweekly
Home Blogs Web Features Calendar Listings Artvoice TV Real Estate Classifieds Contact
Previous story: Canal Side Plans Unveiled
Next story: Kenneth W. Syracuse Passes Away at 62

Common Council Votes Tuesday on Domestic Partner Benefits

LoCurto and Rivera push to extend partner benefits to all city employees

Also on Tuesday night, 13 people spoke in support of a proposal forwarded by Councilmembers Mike LoCurto and David Rivera, which would make all city employees eligible for domestic partner benefits.

The occasion was a public hearing on a bill that was voted out of committee Tuesday afternoon. Rivera and LoCurto expect the entire Council will vote on the proposal this coming Tuesday, October 27.

Currently, 40 percent of city employees qualify for domestic partner benefits, which extend health and other benefits to unmarried but committed partners. According to LoCurto, only two eligible city employees have availed themselves of the benefit. LoCurto and Rivera’s bill opens the benefit to all employees, and creates a domestic partner registry as a means for city employees to verify their relationships.

The only councilmembers to attend Tuesday night’s public hearing were LoCurto, Rivera, and Mickey Kearns, who left for another engagement after affirming his support for the measure.

“I’m appalled that only three members of Buffalo’s Common Council are here to discuss this,” said Paul Morgan, who lives in the Cottage District.

“I hope your colleagues’ support is not indicated by their attendance,” said attorney Sean Cooney, who noted that the cost of implementing domestic partner benefits was quite small. “The abridgement is equality blows away that minimal cost.”

Andrew Ludwig, a pastor at an evangelical church, said that domestic partner benefits are good government: If it’s not more progressive, the city will lose good employees to the private sector, where domestic partner benefits are common

According to James Heffron, the low cost of implementing domestic partner benefits and the need for city government to be progressive and competitive are well and good, but trumped by a stronger argument: “it is fundamentally the right thing to do,” he said.

geoff kelly

blog comments powered by Disqus