City Council Poised to Pass Symbolic LGBT Benefits Ordinance Tonight
In what is being seen as a symbolic move, Richmond City Council hopes to pass a measure tonight that will provide benefits to same-sex partners when the state allows the same.
Rumors were abound around the bill for some time – some council members had worked extensively with external LGBT and equality groups to develop a plan which would have covered same-sex partners as well as any other dependent in a city employees household. However further examination of this provision, know as an ‘other qualified adult (OQA),’ revealed the program would have been a greater financial burden than a same-sex partner seeking their own insurance through the Affordable Care Act.
In an email sent to activists and community members last week, Councilman Parker Agelesto, who had spearheaded the OQA program, explained why the program was no longer feasible.
I… met with Human Resources staff and explored the current costs of health care to City employees and gauged the availability for other less expensive options. In the end, an OQA option in the existing City health plan would cost the employee roughly $930 per month if assessed 100% of the premium costs for the other qualified adult. This high expense would make such a benefit unobtainable to most employees. We also assume that the exchanges available through the Affordable Care Act would be more attractive as an alternative option.
Therefore, the patrons have concluded not to amend the original proposed ordinance.
The OQA measure, and the bill itself, antagonized local religious groups, and even caught the eye of the Richmond based chapter of the Family Foundation – who asked its followers to reach out and complain about the bill.
GayRVA spoke with Council President Charles Samuels last month about the ordinance, and while OQA wasn’t yet confirmed, it appears to bill going before council tonight resembles the bill discussed then.
Samuels explained this bill was a preemptive move to get the city inline with what many consider to be inevitable.
“Because of the Supreme Court Decision, and because of what appears to be a changing opinion in the public about gay marriage,” said Samuels. “We decided that now was the time to at least put in, start the process, so when it becomes legal in Virginia, the city wont miss a beat.”
Samuels compared Ordinance 2013-154 to a bill he worked to pass a number of years ago dealing with the privatization of liquor stores. While no privatization of state-run ABC stores has occurred, Samuels’ bill set up language to prepare the city if it ever happened, allowing the city to “not get caught with its pants down.”
Supporters of the bill are encouraged to attend tonights meeting and let their voices be heard. The meeting starts at 6PM in the Richmond City Council Chambers:
Richmond City Hall
900 E. Broad Street
“We joint with Richmond residents and families in celebrating the significance of this important decision.”June 26, 2015
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