Newly elected Asheville City Councilman Gordon Smith on the possibility of extending benefits to same-sex partners of city employees (h/t Mountain Xpress):
I’ve moved forward with this initiative now because City staff will be presenting an analysis of our health and benefits packages in a worksession on March 9th. Including our LGBT employees is crucial. Seven other government entities in North Carolina have already passed DPB. Three of them, including Mecklenburg County, passed same-sex only DPB. It’s perfectly legal, responsible, and just.
I’ll be offering a lot more on the subject between now and the Feb. 9th meeting. Stay tuned.
As far as the effectiveness of our City Government goes, being able to recruit and retain quality employees is central to success. 270 of the Fortune 500 companies are already offering DPB, and we’re competing for talent. According to a 2005 Hewitt Associates study, the number one reason for offering DPB was to attract and retain employees. In a time of salary freezes and job uncertainty, this is a way to let employees know we value them.
Our LGBT city employees are city employees. Their families are families of city employees. We ought to offer equal compensation for equal work. This is an issue of basic fairness and respect. Since same-sex and transgendered couples are prohibited from marriage in North Carolina, they are also barred from accessing Asheville’s spousal benefits, including health, bereavement, and family medical leave. We have a responsibility to correct this inequity.