Order extends domestic partner benefits to Metro employees

Lisa Gunterman
Lisa Gunterman
Tina Ward-Pugh
Tina Ward-Pugh
Chris Hartman
Chris Hartman

LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE)- It's something some Metro Louisville government employees have waited for, for years.

Friday, it became a reality. Mayor Greg Fischer signed an order offering domestic partner benefits to city employees, starting July 1st of next year.

"It's the right thing to do." Fischer said Friday.

A few metro government employees WAVE 3 talked to, who are directly impacted by the new order, say Friday's announcement means access to healthcare for many domestic partners who don't have it now.

Lisa Gunterman has worked for the city for 4 and a half years.

She's been with her partner, Becky Roehrig for 19.

"During our 19 years together, there have been times when one of us wasn't covered or able to add to the insurance. That is just a huge expense for a family." Gunterman said.

Over the years, she's spent thousands of dollars out of pocket on healthcare for her partner

"Healthcare costs bankrupt families. We all know that. But, because of my family makeup, I wasn't compensated equally to my other employees," Gunterman said.

Friday, with the stroke of a pen, mayor Greg Fischer changed that. Fischer signed an order extending domestic partner benefits to city employees.

"I'm the type of person that I believe justice will come and I knew this day would come eventually, but I just didn't know that it would be today. So, I am absolutely thrilled," Gunterman said.

It's a cause Metro councilwoman Tina Ward-Pugh and others have pushed for years.

"It does mean that my partner of 12 years will finally, on July 1st, 2012, have descent and affordable healthcare. She doesn't have that now," Ward-Pugh said Friday.

Ward-Pugh spoke at the Mayor's announcement. Her partner of 12 years, Laura Ryan, was by her side.

"I am so pleased for all of us in metro government. Not just me." Ward-Pugh said.

Chris Hartman, with the fairness campaign, says Louisville is the first city in Kentucky to offer inclusive benefits to same sex couples.

"This step brings us one step closer to encouraging other communities throughout the state do do the same thing. To pass anti-discrimination fairness laws, like Berea is considering right now. And ultimately to pass a statewide anti-discrimination fairness law," Hartman said.

Fischer says an estimated 300 to 400 city employees could take advantage of the benefits. It could cost the city about $400,000.

The domestic partner benefit applies to medical, dental, and vision insurance coverage for qualified adults, defined as someone 18 years of age and not eligible for Medicare.

The partner must be residing in the employee's household for at least nine months. Couples also must be financially interdependent for nine months or longer and must provide evidence, such as joint checking accounts, joint mortgage, joint utility billing statement and/or joint apartment lease.

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