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ELK GROVE VILLAGE, Ill.-In the first skirmish over San Francisco's new domestic partner benefits law, United Airlines rejected the city's request to provide the benefits to its San Francisco employees.
The city required the Elk Grove Village-based airline to offer domestic partner benefits as a condition of approving its lease at San Francisco International Airport. Tom Ammiano, a member of the Board of Supervisors, said the city offered United a two-year lease without forcing compliance with the new law. After two years, under this proposal, United's lease would be renewed if it provided domestic partner benefits. United, he said, wants a 25-year lease exempt from the new law.
Mr. Ammiano delayed a board vote on approving the United lease until Jan. 28 to allow the airline to consider its position. If United continues to balk, "then we will not vote the contract in and the ball will be in United's court," he said.
A United spokeswoman said providing the benefits will affect more than just the San Francisco employees. "It affects the whole company," she said. "You just can't do it (provide benefits) for San Francisco. You have to do it for the whole company."
San Francisco's ordinance was passed in November and requires all companies contracting with the city to provide to registered domestic partners the same benefits offered to employees' spouses. There are about 3,000 registered couples-primarily gay and lesbian-in San Francisco (BI, Nov. 11, 1996).
Despite United's position, Mr. Ammiano is optimistic the situation will be resolved. "My gut feeling is that it will be OK," he said.