Vana: Commission should push to legalize gay marriage, if concerned about inequityby Jennifer Sorentrue | September 11th, 2013
Palm Beach County Mayor Steven Abrams on Tuesday said he was concerned that a policy change to reimburse unmarried domestic partners for the taxes they pay on health insurance could unfairly benefit straight couples.
Commissioner Shelley Vana responded, saying if the commission was concerned about the potential inequity it should petition the state to legalize gay marriage.
“If this truly disturbs us, we should have a resolution to the legislature to allow gay couples to marry and then there would be no inequity,” Vana said.
Straight couples can legally get married in Florida, but their gay counterparts can’t, Abrams said. The policy change, which was approved by the commission, could provide straight couples with an unnecessarily salary boost, he said.
“As a policy issue the county will now be increasing the salary of a county employee because of that status,” Abrams said before the vote. “They have the option to be a domestic partner in order to get a salary benefit that the gay couple that has no option currently does not enjoy.”
County attorneys said the benefit could not be limited to gay couples.
Under current federal law, married couples are not taxed on the value of their health insurance coverage.
But committed unmarried couples, such as gay or lesbian couples who cannot legally marry in Florida, do not receive that same benefit.
The county has 48 employees with domestic partners who are enrolled in the county’s health plan, officials said.
The change is expected to cost the county $135,783 a year.