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Council Approves Benefits For Same-Sex Partners Of Metro Employees

Council Approves Benefits For Same-Sex Partners Of Metro Employees

CREATED Jun 17, 2014
NASHVILLE, Tenn. - Metro Council members cast an historic vote Tuesday night. By a margin of 27-7, with two members abstaining, the council approved a proposal to extend health insurance and other benefits to same-sex partners of Davidson County employees.

The bill had plenty of support, but those who were opposed made sure they were heard, as well.

From the beginning, Councilman Phil Claiborne has raised issue with how much offering benefits to an untold number of people would cost.

Claiborne estimated the number could be upwards of $2 million for just the remainder of 2014. The city's estimate was less than half a million.

Others, like Councilman Bill Pridemore, said voting for the bill would compromise his and his constituents' personal values.

They were vastly outnumbered, however, by those who felt this was a step towards treating all of the city's employees equally. 

"This is huge," said Bob Benson, who works with Metro Parks. "It's just huge, but the biggest deal to me is now I can say that my employer recognizes that we are a family. I couldn't say that before, so I'm thrilled."

Benson has been with his partner for 12 years.

Shortly after the vote, Mayor Karl Dean - who has supported this bill from the beginning - released the following statement:

"The majority of large employers nationwide already offer domestic partner benefits, as do many city governments and large private employers in Nashville. I thank the Council for their leadership in making partner benefits a priority so that Metro can continue to offer a competitive level of benefits. Tonight’s vote reaffirms that we, as a city, respect individual dignity and are a truly inclusive city."

This change will take affect at the next open enrollment in the fall. Before then, anyone wanting to enroll will have a laundry list of documentation to come up with to prove that they are actually in a domestic partnership.