Bucks district moves towards benefits
by Angela Thomas
Dec 12, 2013 | 799 views | 0 0 comments | 59 59 recommendations | email to a friend | print
After several weeks of discussions, Central Bucks School District appears to be moving towards providing benefits for the same-sex spouses of employees.

On Oct. 22, an employee brought the issue of same-sex spousal benefits to the district’s board but was told that the wording used in the district’s benefits policy prevented it from including same-sex spouses.

The employee and her spouse were legally married in Delaware.

After a board meeting last month that drew a wealth of support for the policy change from the public, the board met again Dec. 2.

According to Stephen Corr, the board’s vice president, the district is looking at moving towards including same-sex couples.

“At the last meeting, we asked the superintendent to speak with insurance carriers on how and what we would need to do to have benefits for same-sex married couples,” Corr said.

Superintendent David P. Weitzel told PGN Wednesday that the district has reached out to “our two health-care providers and requested that they provide language to us that we believe would include same-sex legally married couples to be covered by health insurance.”

Weitzel said the district is awaiting a response and expects the change could be implemented in the coming weeks.

Former Equality Pennsylvania president and LGBT activist Adrian Shanker said providing benefits to same-sex couples who are legally married is preferential to domestic-partner benefits.

“Typically, domestic-partner benefits require joint residency and a couple to have been together for a certain amount of time. It is a tougher standard to meet than getting a marriage license,” Shanker said. “[With a marriage license], you are making a commitment that is legal — you don’t have prove that you have a joint bank account.”

Shanker added that domestic-partnership benefits, although a good step forward, still hold the separate but equal stance.

“There are people who believe domestic-partner benefits are better because they don’t have to get married. I don’t want domestic partnership for gay couples and marriage benefits for straight couples. They are not the same, not equal.”

Shanker added that, if the district moves ahead with the benefits change, it reflects a commitment to workplace equality, not even necessarily marriage equality.

“It implies that they want to recruit and retain the best employees available to them and make sure employees are being treated equally,” he said. “It is about treating employees equally rather than the broader conversation about marriage equality.”

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