Georgia County Adds Domestic Partner Benefits

July 7, 2003 ( - In yet another example of an increasingly common trend, lesbian and gay employees of the Fulton County (Georgia) government can now get government health insurance and other benefits for their partners.

The County Board of Commissioners, in a 4-2 vote, gave coverage to employees who fill out a form declaring they are in a “committed relationship” with the person they seek to insure, according to an Atlanta Journal-Constitution story.

The policy makes Fulton County the fourth local government in Georgia to approve domestic partner benefits. “I’m almost speechless; it’s just stunning,” Allen Thornell, the director of Georgia Equality, a gay advocacy group with 12,000 members, said after the decision, according to the newspaper. “We had no idea this was going to pass.”

Commissioners Emma Darnell and Mike Kenn voted against the measure. “I can’t support this legislation, because it flies in the face of basically the sanctity of marriage.” Kenn told fellow commissioners.

Unlike Atlanta’s policy, Fulton’s will not apply to straight couples. The resolution, initially offered benefits to people in committed relationships regardless of gender. But there was an amendment restricting the policy to couples of the same gender, since straight couples can choose marriage.