West Palm Beach to Vote on Domestic Partnership Benefits Ordinance
Photo: George Martinez
"It is all about equal pay for equal work," says Rand Hoch, President and Founder of the Palm Beach County Human Rights Council with the news that the City of West Palm Beach could become the first public employer in the county to enact an equal benefits ordinance.
The ordinance would require contractors to offer equal family benefits to all of their employees.
"The first reading is on Monday," Hoch, who is also Florida's first openly- gay judge, tells New Times.
Should the ordinance pass, city contractors would be able to offer the same health insurance and benefits to their employees who are in same-sex marriages and domestic partnerships that they offer to their other married employees.
According Palm Beach County Human Rights Council, the proposed ordinance being considered is limited to city contracts of $50,000 or more, entered into by contractors who hire five or more employees.
Contractors would not be required to offer benefits they're already giving their legally recognized spouses. So, not much would change, other than giving same-sex spouses and domestic partners the same exact coverage their other employees are receiving.
"West Palm Beach has been in the forefront of equal benefits issues in Florida since 1992," Hoch says. "The [equal benefits ordinance] paves the way to ensure that contractors embrace the same pro-family policies which the City of West Palm Beach has implemented over the years."
The idea behind the ordinance is, of course, about equality. But the City Commission is also poised to secure a stronger and more competitive workforce by enacting the amendment.
Or, as the ordinance puts it, to "promote opportunity without regard to race, color, national origin, religion, sex, gender identity or expression, sexual orientation, disability, marital status, familial status, or age."
The ordinance argues that giving same-sex spouses and domestic partners the same benefits as those whose marriages are legally recognized by the state is a matter of fiscal responsibility, giving the city the best services possible within its budgetary constraints.
"Requiring contractors to provide to employees with same-sex spouses and domestic partners benefits equal to those provided to employees whose marriages are recognized by the state of Florida will require contractors to maintain a competitive advantage in recruiting and retaining the highest quality work force," said Mayor Jeri Muoio via a media release. "Thereby improving the quality of goods and services that the city receives."
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