Minneapolis Requires Domestic Partner Benefits from Contractors

December 16, 2002 (PLANSPONSOR.com) - Contractors doing business with the city of Minneapolis of more than $100,000 will have to give domestic partner benefits to their workers within 12 months under a new city ordinance.

The measure’s lead sponsor, Council Member Gary Schiff, initially proposed requiring the benefits for same-sex domestic partners, according to a Minneapolis Star-Tribune news report.

Schiff changed it to include opposite-sex partners, in part to comply with the city’s definition of domestic partners. But Schiff also said the vast majority of companies that provide benefits to gay and lesbian couples also offer them to opposite-sex partners, the Star-Tribune said.

In arguing for the resolution, supporters said it would make certain that the city contract with companies that attract the best employees through full benefits packages.

Opponents countered that private business already is far ahead of government in providing such benefits so the requirement isn’t necessary, the newspaper said.

The ordinance contains many exceptions, including development contracts, faith-based organizations, and businesses with 21 or fewer employees, the Star-Tribune said.

The Opposition

Council Member Barret Lane made the case against the proposal, saying that it was outside the core mission of the city and that he saw no connection between the quality of goods and services and a firm providing these benefits, according to the Star Tribune.

Neither city staff members nor the proposal’s sponsors were able to say how many companies would be affected by the change.

Last year, the city took 150 bids and proposals for contracts worth more than $100,000. It’s unclear how many would be exempt from the new requirement, which will take effect January 1, 2004.

The city cannot provide such benefits to its employees because state law does not allow it to do so.