Boynton Beach is getting set to join other Palm Beach cities in offering domestic partner benefits for its gay employees. The City Commission is expected to address offering employees with domestic partners or same-sex spouses the same benefits that those whose marriages are recognized by the state.
Mayor Jerry Taylor and city commissioners were sent a report on workplace equality from the Palm Beach County Human Rights Council in an effort to get the ball rolling on the city adopting policies that would give the city's domestic partner employees medical, dental, and life insurance, as well as giving them family sick leave, bereavement leave, and family-medical leave.
Rand Hoch, Florida's first openly- gay judge, and the President and Founder of the Palm Beach County Human Rights Council says that the city won't suffer any major financial distress over offering these benefits.
"Since Boynton Beach does not pay any portion of the insurance premium for employees' dependents, these benefits will only require a minimal impact on the City's budget," Hoch said in a press release.
Just last August, the Town Council of Palm Beach voted to extend benefits for domestic partnerships. The fight for those benefits to implemented was 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.
Despite push-back from some leaders, the projected cost for the Town of Palm Beach for domestic partnership benefits, which went into effect in January, will cost just $72,510.
Just this Friday, a judge ruled that Florida's ban on same-sex marriage is unconstitutional. But, the ban remains as the court awaits appeals from same-sex marriage opposition.
Likewise, Lake Worth has been pushing for Florida to lift the ban. Andy Amoroso, the first openly gay city commissioner in Palm Beach County, has argued that legalized gay marriages in Florida would boost the economy.
"On a financial level, people are spending millions of dollars to get married," Amoroso told New Times. "But because of Florida's laws, gay and lesbian couples are being forced to fly to other destinations to get married."
Hoch, however, doesn't want to wait when it comes to giving domestic partners and their families benefits.
"Despite recent court decisions in Miami-Dade and Monroe Counties, Florida still does not recognize same-sex marriages, " Hoch said in a statement through the Council. "Additionally, opposite-sex couples may remain unmarried to allow their children to receive child support from a prior marriage. These families which should be accorded equal treatment and benefits by the City of Boynton Beach."
Julie Oldbury, Boynton Beach's Director of Human Resources and Risk Management had implanted similar benefits in Oakland Park. Oldbury met with the Council recently to address Boynton Beach's needs.
Now, with open enrollment for employee health insurance coming up in the next few months, the Council is hoping that city leaders can get things moving in the right direction during next week's city commission meeting.
More than 5,200 Boynton Beach residents identify themselves as unmarried partners living together, according to U.S. Census data.