Dallas County considers domestic partner benefits - Dallas News | myFOXdfw.com

Dallas County considers domestic partner benefits

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Dallas County commissioners heard impassioned pleas for the county to adopt health insurance benefits for domestic partners. But the discussion morphed into commissioners trading political and personal jabs.

During Tuesday's meeting several public speakers encouraged commissioners to add the benefits for county employees.

"We want people who love their job. It doesn't matter who they love when they are off the job," said Travis Gasper with Equality Texas.

"By doing that we would be the first county to have a fully inclusive, non-discrimination policy and domestic benefits," added Omar Narvez.

The plan would be available to same-sex and opposite-sex partners, provide a domestic partner affidavit, require proof of living together for six months and provide subsidies to employees so that partners could buy private insurance.

"Because of the Defense of Marriage Act in 1996, federal law and the IRS does not recognize domestic partnerships," said Commissioner Mike Cantrell.

He also argued adding such benefits would increase taxes.

"Moving forward with a domestic benefits package at Dallas County is only a political agenda being pushed by those seeking favor with a certain group of voters," Cantrell said.

County Judge Clay Jenkins disagreed.

"This isn't about currying favor. It's not about making a constitutional challenge to the Defense of Marriage Act. It's not about anything but trying to promote the very best work place that we can promote," he said.

The conversation shifted gears when Commissioner Maurine Dickey said she thinks the county would be circumventing the law by passing a policy that is contrary to the Defense of Marriage Act.

"Thank God we're not waiting on the federal government because in the institution of slavery we never would have gotten there," responded Commissioner John Wiley Price.

That's when Cantrell made a reference to the federal government and President Obama, and Judge Jenkins jumped in.

"Commissioners, he's had four years… and he's about to have four more," he said.

Dickey stopped some laughter when she quipped, "Okay, but I think in many ways we are all waiting for the federal government."


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