Winston-Salem considers domestic partner benefits

Council could limit new policy to married couples only

Photo Credit: Barney Barnes, via Flickr. Licensed CC.

Photo Credit: Barney Barnes, via Flickr. Licensed CC.

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. — City leaders are considering a new policy to extend health and other benefits to same-sex partners of LGBT city employees. The new policy, under consideration in the Council’s Community Development Committee, would provide medical and dental insurance and benefits including family medical, sickness and funeral leave.

Similar policies already exist in a number of cities and counties across the state, including Charlotte, Raleigh, Durham, Asheville and Greensboro.

The policy has some support on Winston-Salem City Council, though Councilmembers Molly Leight and Dan Besse have aired concerns the new policy could discriminate against heterosexual couples.

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Leight and Besse say the new policy should be open to all couples legally married in any state.

“That way you are being fair across the board, and not creating a test from scratch that a couple has to meet,” Besse told The Winston-Salem Journal.

But, such a proposal could still discriminate against same-sex couples unable to travel to a state where same-sex marriages are recognized. The closest to North Carolina are Washington, D.C., and Maryland.

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North Carolina voters passed an anti-LGBT state constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriages in 2012. The amendment does not affect a city’s ability to offer health insurance and other benefits to employees.

If passed by City Council, any new policy would go into effect on Jan. 1, 2015.

The city already has a policy protecting against discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. It was passed in 2007.

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Posted by Matt Comer

Matt Comer previously served as editor from October 2007 through August 2015 and as a staff writer afterward in 2016.