Friday, August 24, 2012

Ballard Signs Domestic Partner Benefits Ordinance

Mayor Greg Ballard signed an ordinance extending benefits to the domestic partners of city-county workers, which the city-county council had passed on a bipartisan 20-8 vote. Ballard had privately communicated to Democratic councilors who sponsored the measure that he might veto the measure unless the Democratic-controlled council moved forward with his proposal to include vast new areas of downtown and other parts of the city in a TIF district, while publicly communicating his concern that the benefit would provide an incentive to city workers not to marry. Ballard did not send out a press release or hold a press event to sign the measure. Instead, he posted a message on Twitter that said, "I just signed all 33 ordinances and resolutions passed by the city-county council last week." Gay rights advocates hailed the new measure. From the Star:

“This is a victory,” said Rick Sutton, president of Indiana Equality. “It’s not everything we want, but it’s what was before us now. Cities that make progressive moves like this are noticed all over the country.” . . .
Ballard’s approval was especially heartening, Sutton said, as Indiana Equality and other advocates gird for a larger battle looming next year.
The new ordinance's life could be short-lived. The legislature is poised to approve a constitutional amendment next year that would make it unconstitutional to extend the benefits of married couples to unmarried couples. The constitutional amendment, if approved, would go before voters in the 2014 election. If it becomes law, domestic partner benefits like the one signed into law by Mayor Ballard could be declared unconstitutional. The Indiana Family Action Network, which is pushing the constitutional amendment, had harsh words for Ballard:
“The Buck has indeed stopped with Mayor Ballard. He signed domestic partnership ordinance 213 today. Cementing his RINO (Republican-in-name-only) status. Conservatives need to remember that Mayor Ballard’s signing of this ordinance shows that he is neither a fiscal nor social conservative and should not be trusted to act according to conservative principles going forward.”
Ballard and his wife Winnie are just returning from an all-expense paid junket to China. Next week, they will both travel to the Republican National Convention in Tampa as a delegate and alternative delegate, respectively, a trip that will be paid for by his campaign committee. Ballard's biggest pay-to-play benefactor, Ersal Ozdemir, and Indianapolis' shadow mayor, Bob Grand, will also be on hand as delegates to make sure that Greg and Winnie don't have to pay for anything out of their own pocket during the all-expense paid trip.

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