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Eau Claire City council approves insurance for domestic partnerships

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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