Boca Raton Finally Updates Domestic Partnership Health Insurance Policy

Updating a 47-year old anti-discrimination policy, the Boca Raton City Council voted 4-1 to extend the full range of domestic partnership benefits, including health, dental and vision insurance, to its municipal employees.

The benefits also include a continuation of insurance coverage, funeral leave, domestic violence leave, family sick leave and domestic partner leave.

Palm Beach County Human Rights Council president Rand Hoch had been lobbying the city council for an update since 2006.

The vote was held at a city council meeting Tuesday evening.

The city council also voted to amend the city's personnel rules and regulations to prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression. That vote was unanimous.

"Finally, a majority of Boca Raton's elected officials have stood up to city administrators who have worked diligently since 2006 to prevent the city's LGBT residents and employees from being treated with equality, dignity and respect," Hoch said in a news release by the Palm Beach County Human Rights Council. "City Council Member Constance Scott and Deputy Mayor Susan Haynie are to be commended for their leadership on these important issues of equality."

However, not everyone was in on the good times.

Anthony Majhess, a council member and likely candidate for mayor in next year's election, was the one dissenting vote for the benefits update.

And Boca Raton resident Bill Whiting spoke out against the regulations that prohibit discrimination towards gay and lesbians.

Whiting claimed that the gay and lesbian community "has a higher propensity for depression, alcoholism, drug dependence and mental health consults, while falling victim in disproportionate numbers to the HIV/AIDS epidemic."

"This is an attempt to pervert an age old reverence for families that is universally recognized as a cornerstone for society," said Whiting.

But these sour pusses won't change the outcome, or the victory of a long-fought battle by Hoch and his group.

It's been almost a year since the Palm Beach County Human Rights Council launched their "Boca Bigots Run City Hall" campaign.

"Boca is just being anti-gay," Hoch told New Times back in January.

"We're not asking for radical things," he added. "We're asking for things that have been standard for a long time. We did the first domestic partnership benefits in West Palm Beach in 1992. That was 21 years ago."

Now, thanks to the city council's vote, the updates are finally going to be implemented, and progress is being made.

"Good things come to those who wait," said Hoch in a news release following the vote. "And the lesbian, gay and gender nonconforming employees of the City of Boca Raton have been waiting for a long, long, time."

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