By Camille Beredjick
Originally published on Advocate.com August 14 2012 1:51 PM ET
The Indianapolis City-County Council approved a proposal Monday to provide benefits to domestic partners of city employees, the Indianapolis Star reports.
Passing with a vote of 20-8 and now in the hands of the mayor, the ordinance would offer insurance coverage to unmarried opposite-sex and same-sex couples. If approved, the measure would increase the city's health insurance costs by roughly $200,000, less than 0.4 percent of what the city and county spend annually on health benefits.
"The importance of the message being sent is that we as a community recognize equal benefits to everybody," said Angela Mansfield, the chief architect of the proposal. "A lot of large universities and corporations within Indianapolis already offer these to their employees."
Mayor Greg Ballard met Monday with groups opposed to the ordinance and told the Star he hasn't decided whether to veto the measure, but not because of the "moral implications" of offering benefits to same-sex couples. Instead, Ballard said he'd prefer if domestic partner benefits were only offered to same-sex couples because offering them to heterosexual couples is a "disincentive to marry."
The 20 votes in favor of the ordinance would be enough to override a veto, but according to Minority Leader Michael McQuillen, the five Republicans who did vote for the measure would be unlikely to override the mayor's decision. Still, McQuillen said, a veto is unlikely because of the proposal's bipartisan support.
A liberal group called Central Indiana Jobs with Justice held a rally outside the City-County Building Monday to show support for the measure. The Rev. Marie Siroky, who receives benefits through her wife, spoke at the rally about the need to recognize domestic partnerships.
"When it comes to laws and offering benefits and offering equal compensation, that goes for all Hoosier families," Siroky said.
The Human Rights Campaign estimates that 150 to 200 municipalities and 24 state governments nationwide have policies in place to offer benefits to same-sex partners.