Cleveland extends employee benefits to same-sex couples

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Two Cleveland City Council committees voted to extend same-sex benefits.

CLEVELAND- The city of Cleveland’s finance committee, and workplace and community benefits committee unanimous approved on Monday to extend equal coverage of benefits for city employees who are in same-sex domestic partnerships.

“This piece of legislation really helps a lot of people who work for the city of Cleveland,” said Kevin Schmotzer, a city employee. Schmotzer works in the department of economic development.

“When my partner and I opened up a business, we definitely utilized the same-sex benefits that helped off-set some costs.  It makes some major decisions for a lot of people.  So it’s a financial thing, but it’s also the right thing,” Schmotzer said.

Up until now, employees in same-sex relationships who had signed onto the city’s domestic partners registry had a deadline of March 30, 2012, to sign up for full health coverage and other benefits. Those who didn’t meet the deadline were required to pay the full cost.

“I met the deadline, but if I did not meet the deadline, my benefits would have probably been about $700 a month just to add my husband to my plan,” said Rick Roscoe, a city employee. On Monday, the two committees approved legislation that would eliminate the eligibility date.

The legislation was passed unanimously by the full council. Now, benefits will be offered to city employees in same-sex partnerships, just the same as any city employees.

“I’ve been a city employee for the last six years, I’ve been with my partner for the last 17 years.  Hopefully, we’ll see a change in June from the Supreme Court, where our marriage will be recognized by the state of Ohio, too,” Roscoe said.