Thanks to a tie-breaking vote from Mayor John Cook (pictured), the El Paso city council on Tuesday restored health benefits to the partners, gay and unmarried, of city employees.
The city's action reversed a November vote from the electorate, which rescinded the benefits after the council previously enacted them. Some of the city council members who voted to reinstate the benefits are leaving office soon and being replaced by politicians who support taking the benefits back. Some council members stated that they supported granting the benefits to gay and unmarried partners of employees but felt boxed in by the voter initiative.
"Although I think everyone should have benefits, I would have respected the will of the voters," Michiel Noe, an incoming council member who didn't get a chance to vote on the matter, told the El Paso Times.
The voter initiative was supported by local church members, especially pastor Tom Brown who wants to recall some of the council members who voted to reinstate the benefits. Another local church official said he was certain that stripping the benefits from people is the right thing to do.
"Homosexual acts are a grave depravity," Michael Rodriguez, a Catholic reverend told the El Paso Times. "One of the great things about our Catholic faith is that we have a final authority on Earth."