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CHICAGO-Domestic partners of gay and lesbian city employees will be entitled to city-sponsored benefits under legislation the Chicago City Council passed last week.
Chicago aldermen voted 32-18, with Mayor Richard M. Daley spearheading the change in policy. Various religious groups fought to defeat the proposal.
Under the ordinance, which takes effect next month, any city employee wishing a domestic partner to receive health or other benefits from the city must, with the partner, sign an affidavit. They must attest to conditions including: they both are at least 18, reside at the same residence and are of the same sex. The partners also must meet at least two other conditions from a variety in a list outlined in the ordinance.
City officials estimate 300 to 400 partners of city workers will be eligible to take advantage of the new ordinance, though anywhere from 20% to 80% of those partners actually can be expected to apply for benefits, said Alderman Bernard Hansen, a leading proponent of the new policy. The city has about 39,000 workers.
Paying the new benefits will cost the city a maximum of $800,000 a year out of an annual benefits expenditure of $290 million, he said.
The new benefits will not be available to live-in heterosexual partners of city workers, which would have cost the city an additional $3 million to $5 million a year, Mr. Hansen said.
The real question, however, was not of cost but one of "equity," he said. "Gays and lesbians are prohibited from marrying by state law," he said. "Heterosexuals aren't."