Eau Claire City council approves insurance for domestic partnerships

By: Kevin Hurd Email
By: Kevin Hurd Email

Every now and then city councils are faced with questions, resolutions and decisions that get peoples' ears perked up.

"The entire weekend and the last couple days, upwards of 50 comments from people in the community, phone calls and emails," said Council Member Andrew Werthmann.

Front and center at tonight's city council meeting was a resolution that would allow city employees in a domestic partnership to get health benefits for a partner.

It is a decision that has already been made in places like Madison, Milwaukee and Racine. And tonight, Eau Claire joins the list after a 10-1 "yes" vote.

"I think the line of questioning was very on point...and i also think council members got a lot of answers and were comfortable to make this decision,"Werthmann added.

Some of the concern stemmed from the cost, since no numbers were available about how many extra people would become insured if the resolution went through. Council member Dave Duax also worried whether the public understood the details.

"This is one where I think people really needed to have some time," Duax said.

But Duax says he is happy with tonight's outcome, as is Clayton Wanta.

"It's not simply an issue of a marriage certificate, it's an issue of a lot more than that and I'm glad to see what they decide," Wanta said.

He proposed the idea to two of the council members and he is glad something he started, had a finish.

"It comes to equality, fairness and doing what's right and I'm really glad to see they took the steps because I think we as a nation will be faced with it and we already are."

Duax says partners may begin receiving insurance by July 1st.

In order to receive health insurance, a partner must be living in the same household as the city employee, be over the age of 18 and be registered with the county as a domestic partnership.

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  • by T on Apr 26, 2012 at 08:09 AM
    So maybe one step closer to allowing same sex marriage.

    I don't know why anyone would whine about it to start with...gay couples aren't fighting to be in church weddings and if im correct over half of marriages are done by judges lawyers and others who make their living off the dissolving of those relationships, why are so many so up in arms about gay marriage and them offering security to 2 people who love eachother.

    Congratulations Eau Claire

    It seems like the right step tward true equality. I am a strait man but have met and been friends with many gay couples and in many ways envied the tolerance they have.

    Im just rambling but happy about positive changes in our area.

  • by concerned on Apr 25, 2012 at 10:44 PM
    I think it is a step towards fairness. Congratulations to the City Council & those the ruling will effect.
  • by Northwoods Free Man on Apr 25, 2012 at 05:15 PM
    I don't have a dog in this hunt but it is a reckless use of taxpayer money if these folks actually voted on this resolution without any numbers on how much it will cost the taxpayers of Eau Claire. The merits of the resolution need to stand on their own and be justified to the taxpayers. Responsible government does not implement policies "just because Madison & Milw. already have it'. If that is how the council wants to run the city then they should disband and have Madison run EC for them because they are redundant.
    • reply
      by Kevin on Apr 26, 2012 at 10:31 AM in reply to Northwoods Free Man
      I would be curious if that very same idea was used when deciding if heterosexual married spouses and their families would be covered. Having insurance coverage for the worker only is much less costly compared to covering the worker and their family. I am saying this in all seriousness with the same arguement: "...but it is a reckless use of taxpayer money if these folks actually voted on this resolution without any numbers on how much it will cost the taxpayers of Eau Claire." The difference up to now was that only one class of people were allowed to have coverage for themselves and their families.
      • reply
        by Northwoods Free Man on Apr 26, 2012 at 02:55 PM in reply to Kevin
        Well that is something that may be in the meeting minutes if you can find them from most of a century ago. I believe that if you find the discussion in the minutes there will be an amount estimated there. My point remains that regardless of what the city, or you & I for that matter, purchase it would be outrageous to admit to being ignorant of what it will cost before agreeing to make the commitment to it. These folks have a fiduciary responsibility to the taxpayers and they admit according to the story above that they have no clue how much it will cost. How is this not dereliction of duty? Would you accept that from your employees? I would not.
  • by Darin on Apr 25, 2012 at 04:17 PM
    Let me start off that I am all for gay marriage. I see no problem with letting people who love each other get married. Actually I don't know why the government needs to know if you are married or not, in my opinion it is none of their business (and for the tax breaks shouldn't count, why should it matter if your married or not?).That being said, I do have a couple questions which I'm hoping somebody has the answers to. If you are in a domestic partnership is the other person liable for all financial burdens you create? If not what stops heterosexual couples whom are not married from being allowed to enter into domestic partnerships? What other major differences are there between DP's and marriages?
  • by Anonymous on Apr 25, 2012 at 10:36 AM
    its about adam and eve NOT ADAM AND STEVE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! MARRAGE EQUALS ONE WOMAN AND ONE MAN
    • reply
      by Anonymous on Apr 25, 2012 at 03:40 PM in reply to
      And in the case of Newt, one man and one woman and then another and another. Bet they all got benefits in turn.
      • reply
        by anonymous on Apr 26, 2012 at 01:30 PM in reply to
        bahahah, thank you for pointing out the hypocricy that continues to be spewed.
  • by Anonymous on Apr 25, 2012 at 09:44 AM
    For you narrow minded people try to think of it this way, if Wisconsin had same sex marriage this wouldn't be a question. But Wisconsin is too narrow minded for that. Whether you think homosexuality is a good thing, or bad thing, or don't care one way or the other, it's been around since the dawn of man and will be around until the end of man. Just because you don't agree with it isn't going to make it go away. It's about time that same sex couples get to enjoy the benefits of hertosexual couples. I still have a low opinion of the city council but this elevated ever so slightly.
  • by JJ on Apr 25, 2012 at 09:21 AM
    Yeah for Eau Claire! One small step towards equality.
    • reply
      by Rice Lake on Apr 25, 2012 at 02:35 PM in reply to JJ
      Yeah for Eau Claire, one step closer to bankruptcy
  • by anon on Apr 25, 2012 at 08:05 AM
    ok so does that mean that my insurance can cover my boyfriend ? we are not married and my insuracne is better so what is the difference ?
    • reply
      by Doesn't Matter on Apr 25, 2012 at 09:58 AM in reply to anon
      Register as domestic partners in Eau Claire county and I am sure you can. You can be registered domestic partners without being of the same gender.
      • reply
        by Kevin on Apr 25, 2012 at 03:44 PM in reply to Doesn't Matter
        Actually the couple must be same sex partners as defined by the registration forms: http://www.co.eau-claire.wi.us/eau_claire/DomesticPartnership_FAQs1.pdf
      • reply
        by Darin on Apr 25, 2012 at 04:11 PM in reply to Doesn't Matter
        No you can't, it is for same sex couples only.
        • reply
          by Dave on Apr 25, 2012 at 05:27 PM in reply to Darin
          So isn't that discriminating against opposite sex couples? Sure looks like it to me.
        • reply
          by John on Apr 25, 2012 at 08:21 PM in reply to Darin
          So are straight people being discriminated against?
  • by ROK Location: ec on Apr 25, 2012 at 07:53 AM
    this is what the city council is working on? seriously? when they don't even know if it's an issue to anyone that actually works for the city? good grief.
    • reply
      by Anonymous on Apr 25, 2012 at 08:29 AM in reply to ROK
      Better to have a policy in place before it becomes an issue.
      • reply
        by Tom on Apr 25, 2012 at 12:09 PM in reply to
        yep, could save money, wait and see if a policy if even needed, but that is too logical for EC
  • by Anonymous on Apr 25, 2012 at 07:35 AM
    I really don't have an issue with the councils decision other than matching revenues with expenses. Some people with domestic partners behave and truely care about their partners better than the married crowd. This acutually gives them the ability to legally deal with health issues of each other. As I said, just make sure you pare back on another area to afford this. Don't just raise revenue - politically correct term for taxes.
    • reply
      by Hmmm on Apr 26, 2012 at 07:04 AM in reply to Anonymous
      I have a friend who has lived with 2 women for years, they share rent, chores, lifes joys and pains. Could he cover both of them since in reality, all three are domestic partners?
      • reply
        by anonymous on Apr 26, 2012 at 01:33 PM in reply to Hmmm
        argh...you have to be legally declared domestic partners..of the same sex...legally registered with the county...LEGALLY. The questions being asked on here are absurd.
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