City to consider benefits for same-sex couples

CINCINNATI, OH (FOX19) - The City of Cincinnati may soon offer health benefits for same sex couples who are employed by the city.

The effort is being led by councilman Chris Seelbach, who says Cincinnati needs to stay competitive. Cleveland and Columbus already offer such benefits.

"Whether you're married or not you should have your significant other receive health benefits just like any other employee," said Seelbach.

Seelbach's measure would provide health benefits just like any married city employee.  Seelbach, who is openly gay, says the measure is not just about same sex couples.

"It's not specific to any one group of people, so it's not specific to LGBT people. This could be an opposite-sex couple that chose not to get married so it would be open to anyone in a relationship," he said.

Rev. K. Z. Smith of Corinthian Baptist Church in Avondale takes a dim view of Seelbach's plan.

"I don't support the domestic partnership that he's trying to present. Not only from a biblical spiritual standpoint, but also from an economic standpoint," said Smith.

Councilman Charlie Winburn says he's going to keep an open mind, but has concerns about the costs.

"Any proposal that any council member brings to bust our budget would be a problem," he said.

Reverend Smtih claims the measure is an effort to get around the ban on gay marriage.

"Even though, from what I hear, the proposal includes heterosexual couples as well who are not married, I really believe the primary reason is because of same sex couples."

The motion reads:

We MOVE to request a report from the Administration on the costs of various potential eligibility and benefit structures necessary to implement equal health benefits for all city employees.

Council requests that the Administration consider the potential cost of allowing non-married employees to include a cohabitating adult on the City Health Plan. Council also requests that it be presented an analysis of the actual cost of health benefits by eligibility classification that it understands to be: 1) Single with no children;  2) Single with children;  3) Married with no children;  and 4) Married with children.

The motion will be discussed during a council meeting on Wednesday, Jan. 11.

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