Indianapolis council OKs domestic partner benefits
August 14, 2012 4:36PM
Updated: August 14, 2012 11:04PM
INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Health care benefits would be offered to domestic partners of Indianapolis city workers under a proposal approved by the City-County Council, although the mayor says he isn’t sure whether he’ll sign it.
The proposal passed Monday night in a 20-8 council vote and would offer insurance coverage to same-sex and unmarried heterosexual couples. Supporters say offering domestic-partner benefits will improve the city’s image, since many companies already provide such coverage.
Ballard, a Republican who met Monday with organizations opposed to the ordinance, told The Indianapolis Star that he isn’t concerned about moral implications of offering benefits to gay city employees.
Ballard said he would prefer that the city offer benefits only to same-sex domestic partners because he sees offering them to heterosexual partners as a “disincentive to marry.”
In Indiana, the cities of Bloomington and Carmel and some state universities, including Indiana, Purdue and Ball State, provide benefits for employees’ same-sex partners.
Those on the council opposed to the measure raised concerns about its cost — the city faces a $65 million budget gap for 2013 — and the moral message it sends.
“This proposal sets a very bad precedent for me,” Republican councilman Aaron Freeman said.
City officials have estimated that fewer than 30 of nearly 7,500 eligible workers would apply for the domestic partner coverage, which would increase the city’s health insurance costs by about $200,000. That’s less than 0.4 percent of the roughly $58.2 million spent a year by the city and county on health benefits.
Five Republican council members joined 15 Democrats in voting in favor of the proposal.
While the vote tally is enough to override a mayoral veto, council Republican Minority Leader Michael McQuillen said it’s doubtful Republicans who supported the ordinance would want to do so.
Democratic councilwoman Angela Mansfield, a sponsor of the proposal, said $200,000 is a small portion of the city’s budget.
“The importance of the message being sent is that we as a community recognize equal benefits to everybody,” she said. “A lot of large universities and corporations within Indianapolis already offer these to their employees.”