The District of Columbia City Council passed two gay rights bills on Jan. 4.
The bills passed were the Domestic Partnership Equality Act and the Health Care Benefits Expansion Amendment Act.
The bills would give domestic partners power of attorney, the ability to sue for negligence, immunity from testifying against one another and create alimony-like obligations if a partnership is dissovled, among other protections.
Joe Solmonese, president of the Human Rights Campaign, called the bills an improvement but not a final solution.
“This is a step forward, but we’re many steps away from D.C. couples having equal protections and responsibilities,” Solmonese said. “Though some members of Congress may attempt to eliminate these protections, there is never an easy time or place to advance civil rights.”
Solmonese vowed to work with allies in Washington and on Capitol Hill to ensure the benefits passed by the council members of both parties take effect without congressional interference.
The mayor is expected to sign the measures, and the council must send the mayor-approved bills to Congress for a 30-day period. After 30 days, the measures go in effect if Congress does not interfere.
This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition of January 6, 2006.