WA Community Opts for Same-Sex Partner Benefits

June 8, 2007 (PLANSPONSOR.com) - City of Bellevue, Washington workers now in committed same-sex relationships will be able to have their partners get health insurance, family leave and a host of other benefits previously offered only to married couples

On Monday, after weathering years of lobbying by employee unions and fielding a lawsuit filed by the gay advocacy group Lambda Legal, the Bellevue City Council voted unanimously to extend its benefits package to unmarried domestic partners of city employees — whether straight or gay, according to a news report from the Seattle Post-Intelligencer .

Bellevue Mayor Grant Degginger said the decision to extend medical benefits, life insurance and family leave provisions to unmarried straight as well as gay partners long has been his aim. “It’s the right thing to do,” he said, according to the news report.

“As an employer you want to try to treat all your employees fairly. Also, it’s a competitiveness issue. We are having a hard time filling a variety of positions in the city and if this is a benefit that is important to people, we need to provide it to retain good, quality people.”

Some estimate the annual pricetag as ranging from $150,000 to $450,000, based on information from other public employers — including King County and Washington state — which offer benefits to employees’ domestic partners.