Gay County workers closer to sharing health care benefits

CUYAHOGA COUNTY, OH (WOIO) - A vote to expand health benefits to gay county workers was a hot topic Tuesday.

The Cuyahoga County Council debated whether to allow same sex couples to share health benefits.

The ordinance, which gays say is all about equality, passed six-to-four. It means gay and lesbian county workers who can prove several things -- including living with their partner for at least six months and own property together will get the same healthcare as married couples.

"It means that we are valued as a family in this community and it brings jobs and other opportunities to folks like us," said Craig Hoffman.

Council member Dave Greenspan voted against the ordinance. He says there are still questions about how much it will cost the county and issues with the Ohio Constitution.
"If the intent is to provide insurance reform and provide equal healthcare access to all county employees then it should not just pertain to same sex couples," said Council member Dave Greenspan.

Those in favor of the measure say it makes good business sense.
"If the county or the city or the state has rules that are anti-gay or something like that they will not make the short list," said Kevin Schmotzer.

The ordinance could go into effect as early as Wednesday. All it needs is County Executive Ed Fitzgerald's signature.