Monday, December 26, 2011

Village of Wellington Extends Domestic Partnership Benefits

The Wellington Village Council has completed a comprehensive policy revision to include registered domestic partners of Village employees as family members.

The action was taken at the request of the Palm Beach County Human Rights Council, which has been working with the Village on domestic partnership issues for the past year. The Palm Beach County Human Rights Council has been the leading advocate for domestic partner benefits in Florida since 1992, when the City of West Palm Beach became Florida's first public employer to provide domestic partnership benefits.

Domestic partners of Village employees and their children are now eligible for the same health, dental, vision and supplemental dependent life insurance coverage as employees' spouses and their children. In addition, Village employees may now take extended medical leave to care for their domestic partners and may utilize bereavement leave to grieve for an employee's domestic partner, as well as the partner's children, parents, siblings and grandparents.

"When we met with Wellington Mayor Darell Bowen at last year's gay polo tournament, the mayor emphasized the importance of developing a very inclusive domestic partnership policy," said Rand Hoch, President of the Palm Beach County Human Rights Human Rights Council. "As a result, Village Manager Paul Schofield and his staff developed a pro-family domestic partnership policy which is possibly the most inclusive in Florida."

Each year, the Village of Wellington plays host to the Gay Polo League's international tournament. This year's tournament will be held on Saturday, April 14 at Wellington's Grand Champions Polo Club.

"The Gay Polo League facilitated the Palm Beach County Human Rights Council's efforts to urge the Village to extend domestic partnership benefits," said Hoch. "Last year, the Gay Polo League was instrumental in having Wellington include both 'sexual orientation' and 'gender identity or expression' in the Village's nondiscrimination policies."

Wellington is recognized as the winter equestrian capital of the world and in 2010 was named one of the "Top 100 Best Places to Live" by Money Magazine.

More public employers in Palm Beach County provide domestic partnership benefits than in any of Florida's other sixty-six counties.

In Palm Beach County, public employers that provide domestic partnership health insurance and other benefits include Palm Beach County, the School District of Palm Beach County, Palm Beach State College, the Palm Beach County Sheriff's Office, the Office of the Clerk and Comptroller, the Office of the Tax Collector, the Office of the Property Appraiser, the Office of the Supervisor of Elections, the Port of Palm Beach, the Solid Waste Authority, Palm Tran, Palm Beach County Children's Services Council, the Palm Beach County Health Care District, Seacoast Utility Authority, as well as the cities of Delray Beach, Lake Worth, and West Palm Beach, and the Town of Jupiter.

"Hopefully other public employers in Florida will soon follow Wellington's lead," said Hoch.