City Council Vote On Benefits For Same-Sex And Unmarried Couples Expected Nov. 12; Public Hearing Set Nov. 5

Monday, October 28, 2013

A vote by the City Council on extending benefits to city employees who are not married but living with another person, including same-sex couples, is expected Nov. 12.

City officials said a special public hearing of the City Council has been scheduled on Nov. 5 at 3:30 p.m. "to discuss legislation concerning benefits to City employees in domestic partnerships."

City Councilman Larry Grohn told the Pachyderm Club on Monday that the second reading is planned for Nov. 19. He said he has a Florida vacation planned for that week, but will have to come back early to take part in the vote.

He said usually "as a courtesy" votes are delayed when a member has to be absent, but he said it was indicated that this vote will not be put off.

Councilman Grohn, who opposes extending the benefits, said council members are due to get a briefing on the issue from city personnel officials on Nov. 5. It will include details on the projected cost.

He said he was told that as many as 400 city employees would be in line for the benefits.

He also said that council members may get a draft of the ordinance this week. It is similar to a measure passed Aug. 5 by the Collegedale Commission, he said. Collegedale initially extended benefits to a same-sex couple, then the next month said they should also apply to heterosexual couples living together without marriage.

Council members Chris Anderson and Carol Berz earlier vote at a rally in favor of extending the benefits.

At the Pachyderm Club meeting, attorney Joe Manuel noted that Tennessee a number of years ago amended its Constitution to state that marriage is defined as between a man and a woman. He noted that the state government does not recognize same-sex marriages even if they have been obtained in another state.

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