By Steve Harrison
Posted: Thursday, Apr. 12, 2012

The city of Charlotte is considering offering benefits to same-sex partners of its employees, City Manager Curt Walton said during a budget meeting Wednesday.

Walton said the city is studying the issue, and expects it would cost $150,000 annually. The city spends about $40 million on health benefits a year.

He said the city is considering the change to be competitive with other private and public employers.
“We always try to be in the ballpark in terms of pay and benefits,” Walton said.

Mayor Anthony Foxx, a Democrat, said he’ll support the change.

“It’s a competition issue,” Foxx said.

Walton will make a formal recommendation on the benefits at the next budget meeting May 9.

A day before, on May 8, N.C. voters will decide on Amendment One, which seeks to define marriage in the state as between one man and one woman. Gay marriage is already illegal in the state, but Amendment One would place the definition in the state constitution.

Walton said he believed that the city could move forward no matter what happens with Amendment One.
The city also is studying whether to offer benefits to different-sex domestic partners as well. City staff is researching how it would implement any changes.

The city last studied the issue in 2005. Mecklenburg County in 2009 began offering benefits for same-sex partners of employees.

Harrison: 704-358-5160



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