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West Palm Beach Approves Equal Benefits Ordinance

An ordinance that would require West Palm Beach contractors to offer equal family benefits to all of their employees was given an initial approval Monday night, with two commissioners voting against it.

Should the ordinance become law, 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 married employees.

The final vote was 3-2, Rand Hoch, president and founder of the Palm Beach County Human Rights Council, tells New Times.

The two nay voters, Commissioners Kimberly Mitchell and Shanon Materio, have asked for additional information from staff before the final vote.

"I am optimistic that staff will be able to provide Commissioners Mitchel and Materio the information they need in the very near future," Hoch said.

A final on the equal family benefits is required before the ordinance becomes law.

So far in Florida, Broward County, Hallandale Beach, Key West, Miami Beach, Oakland Park, and Wilton Manors have enacted equal benefits ordinances.

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.

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 now 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 said last week via a news release. "Once enacted, the EBO will pave the way to ensure that contractors embrace the same pro-family policies which the City of West Palm Beach has implemented over the years."

According to Hoch, a final vote for the ordinance should be on the agenda for the meeting on Monday, August 18.

4526-14 Equal Benefits by Chris Joseph

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Chris Joseph
Contact: Chris Joseph

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