Boynton Beach considers extending benefits to domestic partners of employees

By Charlie Keegan

BOYNTON BEACH, FL (WFLX) - Boynton Beach is the next Palm Beach city to consider giving benefits to domestic partners of employees.

City Commissioner David Merker says it's time domestic partners are recognized as equals. "We're behind the times here, that's the problem," he said.

Tuesday, the commission will consider a proposal giving health insurance and other benefits city employees receive to their domestic partners and not just traditional family members. "This ordinance isn't just for gay or lesbian, it's also for people who are living together. Who am I to tell someone how to live?" Merker pointed out.

Rand Hock with the Palm Beach County Human Rights Council is pushing for the change. He said it's about families and pointed out public support is growing. "People are accepting same sex marriage in greater numbers than ever before," he said.

City staff said adding domestic partners to benefit plans wouldn't cost the city more because it doesn't contribute to dependents's coverage as it is.

It's hard to say how many employees have a domestic partner. Records from 2010 showed 7.7 percent of Boynton Beach residents live with a domestic partner.

Depending on what commissioners do Tuesday, city staff said it is possible to get a new ordinance on the books in time for open enrollment which begins September 1.

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