Gay, non-married partners get same benefits as married couple - Fox29 WFLX TV, West Palm Beach, FL-news & weather

Gay, non-married partners receive same benefits as married couples

WEST PALM BEACH, FL (WFLX) - For the first time in Palm Beach County, gay, lesbian and unmarried couples in the city of West Palm Beach will share the same benefits of family sick leave as their married or heterosexual co-workers.

This comes after the city changed a policy only targeted for straight couples.

Rand Hoch, the president of the Palm Beach County Human Rights Council, says it's another step in the right direction for the gay community.

"All families should be treated equally," said Hoch.

Hoch says keeping his efforts to achieve equal rights at a local level is the only way he's able to see success.

Monday he saw a major change which he says will benefit everyone. "It's good for business, employees, morale, and families," said Hoch.

At newly-elected mayor Jerry Muoio's first city commission meeting, the commission voted to change a policy that only allowed heterosexual married couples take twelve weeks of sick leave to care for their partner.

Now, it is a benefit all couples, regardless of martial status or sexual preference will be able to use.

"It's gone from a policy they realized was lacking to one that recognizes all families equally. This should be the standard now," said Hoch.

Currently, 40 West Palm Beach employees are registered as living in a domestic partnership, with the numbers closely split between gay and straight couples.

Muoio said West Palm Beach needs to be at the forefront of these issues.

"We are the largest city (in the county) and we have the most employees," Muoio said. "It's appropriate that we do this."

Palm Beach Post staff writer Andrew Abramson contributed to this report

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