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Domestic Partnerships to Earn More Benefits Under City Employment

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City Council passed an ordinance on Monday giving full-time city employees in domestic partnerships additional benefits, including family insurance plans. To receive these benefits in a domestic partnership, a couple, whether they are same sex or different sex, must meet certain qualifications.

Employees wishing to receive these benefits need to meet such requirements as sharing a residence, having a long-term committed relationship for at least six months, being each other’s sole domestic partner and being held responsible for each other’s common welfare. They must also be at least 18 years of age, mentally competent to consent to contract and share financial obligations.

The partners must have at least two of the following: joint ownership of a motor vehicle, bank statement, a residential lease identifying both partners as residents, a joint checking account, or credit account.

The city worked with Ohio University’s LGBT alliance to look through the city’s code to clarify that some of the terms do not discriminate on religion, sex, sexual orientation, etc. The city passed an ordinance soon after this to create a domestic partnership registry.

“This [ordinance] further identified that the City of Athens is interested in ensuring that we provide equal access to opportunities,” At-Large Representative Chris Knisely said.

Ohio University adopted the policy with 80 out of their 3,300 employees qualifying. Eleven of those 80 employees claimed their benefits. The amount of claims for the benefits through OU allowed the city to project their potential claim amount to ten people who could make the change from single to family coverage with the additional premium cost of approximately $7,000 per year.

“We owe a ‘thank you’ to the OU HR office,” Knisely said, “for providing us [with] some kind of experience they had about it.”

The benefits, effective  Jan. 1 of 2013 for those who both qualify and claim them, will be on an annual-enrollment basis.

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