"It's going to recognize there are many different types of families in the community and show we do value their service by providing benefits," Mansfield said . . .
Benefits would available would be "identical (to) those available to spouses," and include insurance, pension benefits and family/medical leave.
Will French, who's worked in the county clerk's office for four years and is gay, hopes the ordinance passes.
"Suddenly me and mine could call our families 'families' and the definition of families is expanding and this seems part of that expansion," he said.
Rick Sutton with Indiana Equality says the ordinance is about equality and economics.
"We think it means a lot for the city," Sutton said. "A lot of times, people don't want to go to work for government, because of the money and if you want to attract and retain the best you have to compete with the private sector and this sends a message we're ready to do that."
Mansfield agreed, saying the ordinance "isn't groundbreaking by any means."
She referred to a study that found in 2009, 83 percent of all Fortune 500 companies offered domestic partner benefits.Mayor Greg Ballard is expected to sign the proposal if it passes the council. His new chief of staff, Ryan Vaughn, had agreed at one point to co-sponsor the domestic partner proposal with Mansfield before budgetary concerns sidetracked it. "He understands it could help attract talent to the city. Many of our larger employers do offer those benefits, so if the council passes the resolution extending benefits it's something he'd take a look at," said the mayor's spokesman Marc Lotter.
If HJR-6, the constitutional amendment currently before the Indiana General Assembly that would write Indiana's Defense of Marriage law into the state constitution, is passed by the legislature next year and approved by the state's voters in 2014, it would overturn any state law or ordinance like that proposed by Councilor Mansfield. In addition to limiting recognition of marriage to one man and one woman, HJR-6 contains an additional clause that prohibits extending benefits or rights to same-sex couples similar to those enjoyed by married couples. In the event that happens, the constitutional amendment would likely face a federal challenge under the Equal Protection Clause.