Friday, June 08, 2007

Lawrence Township To Offer DP Benefits

As Indianapolis' GLBT community prepares to celebrate its annual Pride Fest at University Park tomorrow, there is news out of Lawrence Township it will find welcoming. Lawrence Township Trustee Mike Hobbs (D) wants his township to be a "progressive and inclusive" place to live, in part, because it's good for economic development. That's why he announced today that beginning on July 1 domestic partner benefits will be offered to Lawrence Township employees, including fire department, trustee's office, emergency assistance and small claims court.

The DP benefits will be offered to unmarried couples living together in a long-term relationship, whether of the same sex or opposite sex. The plan will be administered by the township's insurer, Anthem, at no additional, immediate cost to taxpayers.

"It is the right thing to do," Hobbs said. "Firefighters deserve the same rights and benefits as everyone else when they put their lives on the line to protect the public." He added, "My aunt is a lesbian and I'm well aware of what she has had to endure because of her sexual orientation."

Lawrence Township will become what I believe is one of the first units of government in the state of Indiana to offer DP benefits. I'm told the City of Bloomington has offered DP benefits for the past several years. Several of the state's universities, including IU, Purdue, Ball State and ISU also offer DP benefits. Those benefits were considered in jeopardy earlier this year as the legislature debated SJR-7, which would have barred the state constitution or any state law from conferring any legal incidents of marriage upon unmarried couples. The state's leading businesses, including Cummins, Eli Lilly, Wellpoint, Dow Agro Sciences and Emmis Communications all opposed the amendment, in part, because of the negative impact it would potentially have on the state economically.

There may be some skeptics and critics who might suggest Hobbs' announcement is related to his arrest a week ago for driving while intoxicated and is an effort to divert attention away from that story. Hobbs in fact began working on a DP benefit plan for Lawrence Township employees several months ago. Hobbs has acknowledged he has a drinking problem and is receiving counseling for his problem he tells AI.

Hobbs should be applauded for showing foresight and leadership on this issue. Let's hope other township trustees and units of government follow his lead. Efforts by former City-County Councilor Karen Horseman (D) to provide DP benefits to Indianapolis' city and county employees fell flat a few years ago. Her successor, Scott Keller (R), has pledged to renew efforts to pass DP benefits if he is re-elected to a second term this year. Keller co-authored Indianapolis' human rights ordinance with City-County Councilor Jackie Nytes, which was enacted last year.

10 comments:

Denise said...

The City of Bloomington has had domestic partner benefits for at least 5 years.

Anonymous said...

Hobbs was arrested for a crime this week....while drunk!

He has ulterior motives in announcing this following his embarrasing arrest for a crime!

Advance Indiana said...

Sorry anon, 7:57, but Mike told me weeks ago he was working on a plan to offer DP benefits for the township employees prior to his arrest, which he expected to announce soon. He told me immediately after the arrest became public he was still moving forward with the plan. No ulterior motive here on his part.

Advance Indiana said...

Anon 7:19, thanks for pointing that out. I wasn't aware Bloomington had DP benefits.

Anonymous said...

Gary, didn't his arrest hit the media before he made it to jail?????

Anonymous said...

Is Hobbs related to Michael Blanchard????????

Anonymous said...

Hobbs is opening up a can of worms with the "long-term relationship" thing. I would love to see how different folks will define that!!

I tried to get my live in girlfriend (dating for three years, planned on getting married-and did, a year later) DP benefits from the university. Was told it was for "same sex" couples only and that they had to go and get some sort of document typed up by a lawyer or something. I almost wanted to go get the same document and scream discrimination when they said "Well, being able to legally marry, that is what we require." Umm, what if I don't be in state sanctioned marriage? In the end, I let it slide. Luckly she had insurance until we were married. Hobbs is going to have his hands fully with girlfriend/boyfriends of the month. For some folks, six months is "long term."

Anonymous said...

I really, really hope that Hobbs' aunt is out (not just to her family) and that he discussed his comments with her before he made them.

Anonymous said...

"I really, really hope that Hobbs' aunt is out (not just to her family) and that he discussed his comments with her before he made them."

With the way township trustees seem to pack their offices with family-related employees, it won't surprise me if he has hired her or her girlfriend/wife.

Anonymous said...

I'm lost. Who is his aunt?