Parents, adult children, and straight and gay partners of Colorado Springs, Colo., city workers could get health benefits as soon as next year. City council members voted unofficially Monday to extend benefits to one person per household other than a spouse or child. Coverage is contingent on the employee paying 100% of costs. Council members are expected to officially approve the move at Tuesday's council meeting. The vote could make Colorado Springs one of the first cities in the country to offer coverage to such a variety of live-in relations, although some corporations already do. It also brings back in a new form a policy that became a key issue in April's municipal elections--same-sex benefits--although council members tried to downplay that aspect of the proposal. "I would still stand against a program that provides health care insurance only for same-sex partners of city employees," councilwoman Margaret Radford said. "This isn't that. This provides insurance for everyone." As with the same-sex plan, employees must prove that anyone they sign up lives with them and is financially dependent on them.
A divided council extended benefits to live-in partners of gay and lesbian employees last year, but the issue stoked the ire of conservatives and helped lead to the election of a more conservative council. That council voted at its first meeting to repeal the benefits as of January 1. A small group of community activists presented the new proposal to the council this summer. The idea was to meet the objections of opponents to the same-sex plan by taking away city contributions and broadening the scope of
recipients. Supporters said the proposal increases health coverage to all families at no proven cost to the city. Several said it proves the same-sex repeal was about business and not morals.