Buffalo would extend employee benefits to same-sex couples under a compromise that sailed through the Common Council this afternoon.
In an 8-1 vote, lawmakers approved a compromise that excludes opposite-sex domestic partners from receiving city benefits. The Council justified the exclusion by arguing that unlike opposite-sex couples who can qualify for benefits by getting married, New York has not legalized gay marriage.
The president of a local coalition of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender residents told The Buffalo News he would have preferred to have seen domestic partner benefits expanded to include both opposite-sex and same-sex couples. But Bryan Ball of Stonewall Democrats of Western New York called the Council's passage of the bill a step forward in promoting equality.
"This really is a tremendous achievement," said Ball. "It will provide a lot of protection and benefits to couples who can't legally get them right now."
Ball and other advocates have downplayed the likelihood that large numbers of people will be added to the city's health insurance rolls. They note that labor contracts already make about half the city employees eligible for domestic partner benefits. To date, only two employees have signed up.
The lone dissenting Council vote was cast by Masten representative Demone A. Smith. He said he strongly supports the effort, but he wanted a clause in the law stating that if New York legalizes gay marriage, the city's provision would no longer apply. The sponsors countered that a preamble to the bill already indicates that the Council would revisit the law if gay marriage is legalized..." Read full article here.
SDWNY is proud and overjoyed to announce that earlier today, the City of Buffalo Common Council passed same-sex couple domestic partner benefits for all city employees. By a vote of 8-1, common council members passed this needed legislation. The exclusion of opposite sex partners was justified on the grounds that same-sex couples are not legally able to marry.
Stonewall would like to specially thank Council Members David Rivera and Michael LoCurto, for their hard work and dedication in getting this legislation, as well as the domestic partner registry, passed. We also would like to thank our Stonewall members, including but not limited to people such as Kitty Lambert, Bruce Kogan, Carol Speser, Michael James and Paul Morgan, who all had a significant role in lobbying for this legislation and testifying in favor of this before the council. This victory is because of you, our Stonewall Democrats, who made this happen by testifying, calling your council members, writing letters and emails and every thing you did to help make this happen.
What I told The Buffalo News, but which was not quoted following the vote, was the following. While this legislation does not cover opposite-sex couples, this is nonetheless a tremendous civil rights victory which shows the city council will correct an injustice in the law for couples and families whom the state has failed by not allowing marriage rights.
If you are so able, please contact the council members who supported this legislation, and thank them for doing the right thing and extending city employee benefits to all same-sex domestic partnerships!
At our March meeting, SDWNY held a candidate forum for the Buffalo Board of Education district elections, which will take place May 4. At the forum, SDWNY members heard from candidates in the North, West and Park districts. Running in the North District, to replace board member Catherine Panepinto (who is stepping down to continue her campaign for the New York State Supreme Court), we heard from Lawrence Scott, Dr. Patricia Devis and a representative for Jay McCarthy. In West, we heard from School Board President Ralph Hernandez. And lastly, in Park, we heard from Board Member Louis Petrucci.
"The Pentagon took a giant step toward integrating openly gay men and women into the U.S. military on Thursday. No, it didn't repeal 1993's "Don't ask, don't tell" law — only Congress can do that. But it did something that could be almost as important: it eased the enforcement of that law by loosening the regulations that have been used to snare 13,500 gays — and boot them out of uniform — since 1994. "These changes will allow us to execute the law in a fair and more appropriate manner," Defense Secretary Robert Gates said. The revised regs "provide a greater measure of common sense and common decency to a process for handling what are difficult and complex issues for all involved."
The new rules require a senior officer — a general or admiral — to approve the ouster of a serviceman or -woman for being gay. That's at least one rank higher than earlier mandated, and is likely to cut down on the number of such cases. Hearsay will no longer be allowed, and statements about a military member's sexual orientation will have to be given under oath. Furthermore, information given to lawyers, clergy or medical professionals — or in connection with domestic violence — can't be used to oust someone...."
Stonewall Democrats of Western New York is the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, questioning and queer Democratic voice in western New York. Our mission is to advocate for the LGBTQ community within the WNY area government and the Democratic Party.
We meet the fourth Tuesday of each month at:
El Museo Gallery 91 Allen Street Buffalo, NY 14202-1320