Republican commissioners speak out against domestic partner benefits

Posted on 23 Oct 2012 at 11:33am

LGBT activist C.d. Kirven addresses the Dallas County Commissioners Court about the importance of offering domestic partner benefits Tuesday morning. (Anna Waugh/Dallas Voice)

The two Republican members of the Dallas County Commissioners Court said they oppose a plan to offer domestic partner benefits to county employees on Tuesday, citing the state’s ban on same-sex marriage.

After the Commissioners Court was briefed on the plan, several speakers highlighted the issue of equality and the county’s need to be competitive to recruit and retain quality employees. The speakers were Cece Cox with Resource Center Dallas, Omar Narvaez with Lambda Legal, Travis Gasper with Equality Texas and C.d. Kirven with GetEQUAL TX.

Republican Commissioner Mike Cantrell then read a statement into the record, calling the plan part of a political agenda. He said the county should not offer the benefits because the federal and state government don’t recognize domestic partners.

“The county is an arm of the state government and as an elected official, my duties are bound to conform with legislation that dictates and defines what determines a legal union,” he said.

Cantrell said DP benefits would increase taxes. He also said they would not provide equality because they don’t include COBRA coverage, and domestic partners are not considered spouses under the Family and Medical Leave Act.

“Moving forward with domestic partner benefits in Dallas County is merely a political agenda that’s being pushed by those seeking favor with a certain group of voters,” Cantrell said.

Commissioner Maurine Dickey said the plan was “a poorly thought out policy.”

“I think that we are circumventing the law by passing a policy, which is contrary to the Defense of Marriage Act,” she said.

Commissioner John Wiley Price then brought up how long it took the federal government to overturn slavery. Price, along with County Judge Jenkins and Commissioner Elba Garcia, has already voiced support for DP benefits.

Cantrell then appeared to reference President Barack Obama, saying “he’s had four years.” Jenkins responded that he’s “about to have four more.”

The court will consider the proposal on its formal agenda next Tuesday and bring the plan forward for a vote.

Watch the video below.

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