Lexington, Ky.'s legislative body voted 8-4 Thursday to deny the extension of health insurance benefits to city employees' domestic partners, either same- or opposite-sex. Lexington mayor Teresa Ann Isaac, a proponent of domestic-partner benefits, could veto the Lexington-Fayette Urban County Council's move, and she told council members after the vote that she would let them know in 10 days what she plans to do.
In July she vetoed a council resolution passed in June that put a three-month moratorium on offering such benefits. The council overrode that veto. Isaac introduced the health plan change in the spring, angering council members because she did not notify them of her plans. Those voting against domestic-partner benefits have raised issues of money and morality and complained about Isaac's handling of the issue.
Isaac has said a so-called fairness ordinance, passed by a previous council, requires her to treat all employees the same and that extending health insurance benefits to domestic partners is necessary because spouses of married city employees receive such benefits.
No council members spoke during the meeting about the resolution, but one gay city employee, Gary Johnson, told the council that those who have campaigned against domestic-partner benefits are "bigots with money." After the meeting Johnson had a message for fellow workers. "At this point, I would encourage all gay employees of the city to quit," he said. "They [the council] voted for the fairness issue in 1999, and now they're laughing at it. They're a bunch of hypocrites."
Domestic partners of city employees will be covered beginning January 1 if Isaac vetoes the council's vote and the council does not override that veto. Nine votes are needed to override. Two council members were absent Thursday, and another, Bill Cegelka, abstained from voting.