The Colorado, Springs, Colo., city council has decided to extend health care benefits to same-sex partners of city employees, prompting warnings from opponents that council members could be ousted by voters angered by the decision. The 5-4 vote Wednesday to include the benefits in next year's budget was preliminary, but final approval of the entire budget is considered a formality. That vote could come by early December.
Focus on the Family, a conservative Christian ministry based in Colorado Springs, campaigned last week to block the plan, sending letters to 14,000 local families. "City government has ignored the will of the people to pursue a political agenda," said Peter Brandt of Focus on the Family. "We're very disappointed."
Councilman Jim Null, who voted in favor of the benefits, said he received about 400 E-mails Monday and Tuesday regarding the issue, 70% of them voicing opposition to the benefits. Brandt and councilwoman Margaret Radford, who voted against the proposal, said same-sex partner benefits could be an issue in municipal elections this April, with those council members who voted for the benefits being targeted for defeat. "This benefit may exist for the next six months or a year and [then] be taken out of the budget," Radford said.