Waymon Hudson

Palm Beach Community College to offer domestic partner benefits

Filed By Waymon Hudson | September 11, 2008 9:00 AM | comments

Filed in: Living, Marriage Equality
Tags: Amendment 2, domestic partner, Florida, insurance, Palm Beach Community College

After more than a year of delays, the Board of Trustees of Palm Beach Community College finally voted to offer domestic partner health insurance to college employees by a vote of 3 to 2. Trustees William Berger, Wendy Link and David Tally voted in favor of the proposal, while Chairperson Kenneth Kirby and former Chairperson Carolyn Williams both voted no.

Readers may remember PBCC as the school that previously voted down offering domestic partnership rights, while at the same time voting to offer insurance to employee's pets. Two trustees -- Carolyn Williams and Kenneth Kirby -- consistently opposed offering domestic partner health insurance to college employees, citing "philosophical difficulties" with domestic partnerships and the "fiscal impact."

Rand Hoch, President of the Palm Beach County Human Rights Council, said in a press release:

Thanks to the persistence of President Dennis Gallon and Human Resources Director Ellen Grace, all employees of Palm Beach Community College will soon be able to purchase affordable health care for their families.

Trustees Williams and Kirby sought to impose their narrow personal opinions as to what constitutes a family on the college's faculty and staff. Fortunately, Trustees Berger, Link and Tally understood what was in the best interests of Palm Beach Community College, and acted accordingly.

Until this evening, each time the trustees were poised to provide equal access to family benefits, Trustees Williams and Kirby prevented that from happening. Today, they finally ran out of ways to delay and deny.

For more than a year, Trustees Carolyn Williams and Kenneth Kirby prevented Palm Beach Community College employees with domestic partners from purchasing health insurance for their families. Ironically, during that same timeframe, the college implemented a program allowing college employees to purchase health insurance for their pets.

PBCC joins a large number of schools offering domestic partner health insurance benefits, such as the University of Florida, Florida International University, Broward Community College, Central Florida Community College, Florida Keys Community College, Hillsborough Community College, Lake-Sumter Community College, Manatee Community College, Miami-Dade Community College, Okaloosa-Walton College, Pasco-Hernando Community College, Santa Fe Community College, Seminole Community College and Valencia Community College.

All these rights are in danger, however, if Amendment 2 passes in November. The dangerous and deceptively vague wording of the "Marriage Protection" Amendment would have the chilling effect of rolling back domestic partnership registries and benefits, much like what happened when Michigan passed a similarly worded amendment.

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