Salt Lake Mayor Vetoes 'Adult Designee' Benefits Plan

February 23, 2005 ( - Salt Lake City Mayor Rocky Anderson, a long-time champion of domestic partner benefits rights, has rejected a City Council proposal offering benefits to designated adults with a documented financial dependency on city employees.

In a veto message , Anderson blasted the council proposal that would have granted health insurance and other benefits to certain adults including relatives and roommates, the Associated Press reported.

The Council adopted the “adult designee” plan this month. To qualify, the designee would have to have lived with the employee for at least a year and the two would have to be financially connected.

“The council’s plan creates a new type of benefit that is unprecedented among public or private sector employers,”Anderson said in the statement. “There can be no justification for treating employees’ roommates or housemates the same as employees’ spouses or domestic partners, except to avoid the issue of marital status equality, especially as it concerns gay and lesbian employees.”

In September,Anderson by executive order extended health care and related benefits to the same-sex and unmarried heterosexual partners of city employees (See Salt Lake Lawmakers Squabble over Domestic Partner Benefits ). Opponents quickly appealed the move, charging that the order runs afoul of state laws prohibiting gay marriage or any legal equivalent.

Anderson said the goal of the executive order was to provide parity between employees with spouses and employees that have spousal-like relationships. `It extends an existing benefit to additional employees based on considerations of fairness and, in doing so, follows the example of over 8,000 public and private sector employers nationwide,” Anderson said at the time he estimated 30 of its 2,600 employees would sign up for the domestic partner option, costing about $113,000 a year.