Toledo Mayor Announces Plan To Introduce Bill Providing Benefits For Domestic Partners Of City Employees
TOLEDO, OH -- City employees who are partnered but not married are set to possibly receive health care and other benefits in a proposed measure that would extend benefits to the domestic partners of Toledo's employees, provided they have certified their status with Toledo's Domestic Partner Registry.
Last Thursday, Mayor Mike Bell's office announced that Bell plans to introduce the legislation at council's next agenda review meeting this Tuesday, May first. In the statement released by his office, Bell said;
"What we're trying to do is bring our city, from the standpoint of human resources and affirmative-action policies, in line with what's happening nationally," Mayor Bell said. "We're not the first train pulling out of the station here; we're actually in a way trying to catch up with the policies that make companies and cities competitive in the state of Ohio."
According to The Toledo Blade newspaper, other cities in the state, including Cleveland and Columbus, along with Lucas County, the University of Toledo, Owens Corning, and the Toledo Regional Chamber of Commerce, offer benefits to domestic partners of employees, according to information provided by the mayor's office.
Bell said he had not realized Toledo didn't offer domestic partner benefits until the non-profit advocacy group, EqualityToledo Community Action, approached him about the issue just more than a month ago. The Domestic Partner Registry, which the previous administration enacted in 2007, allows couples to register their status with the city for a $25 fee but does not extend any benefits. So far, 167 couples from throughout Toledo have signed on to the registry. "Seeing as we had already started portions of this process, it just makes sense to complete it," the mayor said. EqualityToledo Community Action drafted the legislation with the help of the University of Toledo college of law, organization president David Mann said. Having such a law would ensure equal treatment for all employees, he said. "We really think that ultimately this is a matter of fairness," Mr. Mann said. "It will also send a message, whether you're a city employee or not, that the city of Toledo is a fair place to live in."
The Mayor's announcement was met with immediate opposition and skepticism from other elected city officials including City Councilman Rob Ludeman, who was one of two councilmen who had voted against the Domestic Partner Registry. "A lot of it was my own religious beliefs, but I think I represented a conservative constituency who were opposed to it, gay and straight people," Ludeman said. "I'm sure there's going to be vocal folk on both sides. It has nothing to do with liking people or not liking people. It has to do with what is government's role."
The Mayor responded that the legislation has to do with fairness, not religious or moral beliefs. "When you're the mayor, you represent everybody," the mayor said. "Inside the city we have a lot of different lifestyles. All I'm trying to do is be fair to everybody. ... I'm trying to adjust our polices to the obvious that's in front of us right now at this particular time in history."
Jacksonville Florida City Council Takes Up Bill Banning Discrimination Based On Sexual Orientation
JACKSONVILLE, FL -- A coalition of business organizations and elected officials are backing legislation to ban anti-gay discrimination which is set to be introduced at next week's City Council meeting.
The bill would bring Jacksonville into the same posture as other large Florida cities by formally forbidding discrimination in employment, housing and public accommodations -- places like restaurants and hotels -- based on a person's sexual orientation or sexual identity. "You shouldn't be able to fire someone because they're gay. You shouldn't be able to do that in Jacksonville," said former Mayor John Delaney, who has been active in assembling supporters for the legislation.
According to the Florida Times-Union newspaper, the measure is being backed by a coalition of business organizations and elected officials, who are framing it largely as a tool for promoting business growth.
Jacksonville already has legislation that bans discrimination based on factors including race, gender and nationality, and the new measure would add sexual orientation and identity to that list. Delaney said he hopes to schedule a meeting with Mayor Alvin Brown about the measure. Councilman Warren Jones said he agreed to sponsor the bill after talking with retired politicians including Delaney and former Council President Matt Carlucci.
"It's a matter of conscience," Jones said Monday. "To me, it’s not so much whether everyone agrees with the lifestyle or not. It's more whether you discriminate."
Jones said he hopes to file legislation by noon Wednesday, a deadline for a bill being introduced at next week's council meeting. He said he may wait if he has questions or concerns about the wording in the bill. ~The Florida Times-Union