The Los Angeles County board of supervisors on Tuesday voted to extend death benefits to the domestic partners of retired county employees. The move brings the domestic partners of gay and lesbian retired employees in line benefits-wise with the married partners of straight employees.
Los Angeles County currently offers medical and dental insurance coverage to the domestic partners of its employees, and employees can designate their domestic partners as life insurance beneficiaries. County employees also can designate domestic partners as beneficiaries of their pension plan if the employee dies while still employed.
Lorri L. Jean, chief executive officer of the Los Angeles Gay and Lesbian Center, commended the board for its 4-1 vote in support of the benefits. But she also criticized supervisor Michael D. Antonovich, who opposed the proposal. "All but one of our county supervisors made it clear that they support treating the life partners of all county employees equally and respectfully, particularly at one of the most difficult times imaginable--when one's life partner has died," Jean said. "It's appalling that in 2003, in a county that has been a national leader in valuing and respecting diversity, Michael Antonovich would deny death benefits to grieving domestic partners. That kind of discrimination has no place in Los Angeles. Antonovich should be ashamed."