In a budget meeting held on Wednesday, the Town Council of Palm Beach voted to extend benefits for domestic partnerships, including health and dental insurance coverage, bereavement leave, illness in the immediate family leave, family and medical leave, and domestic violence leave.
Kicking off on January 1, 2014, all Town employees will be able to insure their registered domestic partners, giving them the same benefits as opposite-sex married employees. Also, employees' domestic partners will have access to the Town's employee assistance programs, according to a press release from the Palm Beach County Human Rights Council.
The fight for these benefits to be implemented has been a six year battle waged by attorney W. Trent Steele, who serves on the Board of Directors of the Palm Beach County Human Rights Council.
It seems the battle was finally won in Wednesday's budget meeting.
The Willis Group, consultants to the town, recommended implementing domestic partnership benefits. Blue Cross Blue Shield advised that there was no financial risk or impact of any kind to the plan from an underwriting standpoint -- a domestic partner is not a larger risk from a health standpoint than a married spouse.
The projected cost for the Town of Palm Beach for domestic partnership benefits will be just $72,510.
Yet despite this small cost, the Town staff recommended against offering domestic partnership benefits.
But, at special meeting called on July 11, Town Council Members Richard Kleid and Michael Pucillo asked the Town Council to extend family health insurance coverage to employees with domestic partners.
"It is the right thing to do," said Mayor Gail Coniglio at the time.
"Once again, elected officials in Palm Beach County have looked beyond simple dollars and cents and have taken steps to equalize family benefits for their gay and lesbian employees," said Rand Hoch, President and Founder of the Palm Beach County Human Rights Council in a release.