Monday, August 13, 2012 - 17:39
EL PASO — El Paso County Comissioners voted Monday to allow health benefits to same-sex partners for county employees.
The county estimated the extension of coverage to cost just under 24 thousand dollars a year.
Commissioners listened to public comment on both sides of the issue. Gay and lesbian county employees told the court stories of their struggle for equal rights.
Commissioner Dan Haggerty said extending health coverage to same-sex domestic partners would costs more money than what's estimated, and he's called it it unneccesary.
"I think there are a lot of people that think this should happen because lgbyxz's, or whatever they are called is something we need to consider I guess," Haggerty said.
However County Judge Veronica Escobar said Monday's vote was monumental and a step forward.
"This is among the top," she said. "This is, you know I'm a big believer. I'm going to get emotional. I'm a big believer in justice and equality, so this was important."
Escobar also said it was important for the county to offer competive benefits to prevent employees from seeking other employment with companies that do offer same-sex benefits.