Equal Partner Benefits Signed Into Law

Yesterday, Mayor Michael Nutter made LGBT history

The Mayor signs the bill, flanked by Blondell Reynolds Brown (right), the main sponsor of the bill, and LGBT leaders like Gloria Casarez (far left), director of the Office of LGBT Affairs (photo courtesy of Brian Sims)

Yesterday, the Equal Benefits Bill – which was passed on Dec. 1 with a vote of 17-0 – was signed into law by Mayor Michael Nutter during a special event at City Hall.

Introduced by Councilwoman Blondell Reynolds Brown, the bill requires city contractors to now offer the same benefits to the life partners of their employees as are offered by the spouses of married employees. The bill applies to organizations and contractors receiving service contracts of $250,000 or more from the City of Philadelphia.

The benefits, as outlined in the bill, include – but are not limited to – “health insurance benefits, including health, vision and dental benefits; bereavement leave; family medical leave; moving expenses; memberships and membership discounts; and travel benefits.”

And while it’s up to the contractor to let employees know about the new opportunity, failure to do so carries some stiff penalties – like loss of a contract and legal action. But there a few loopholes, unfortunately, like if the benefits would somehow result in the loss of a grant, they would interfere with collective bargaining for a contract, or if the contractor is operated by a religious institution.

The ordinance goes into effect July 1, 2012.