Springfield votes unanimously to cover civil unions benefits

Tue. January 10, 2012 1:11 PM by GoPride.com News Staff

Springfield, IL - The City of Springfield decided Tuesday to reverse an earlier ruling and voted unanimously to extend benefits for city employees in a civil union.

The Springfield Joint Labor and Management Insurance Committee, which has sole decision making power on matters concerning the city of Springfield's insurance plan, initially decided to deny benefits to couples in a civil union based on financial concerns.

The Civil Rights Agenda (TCRA) worked with multiple city council members, other interested parties and citizens to ensure that the committee reversed its discriminatory decision.

"It is difficult to express appreciation when a unit of government follows the law," said Anthony Martinez, executive director of TCRA. "Although the committee ultimately did the right thing, it was the leadership of Alderwoman Turner, and Aldermen Jobe, Cahnman and Edwards that helped pave the way for the public debate surrounding this issue. We are grateful for their persistence and dedication to civil rights."

According to TCRA, a revised actuarial estimate was presented, putting the cost of the extension at $66,000 which is dramatically below the initial and inflated estimate of over $750,000.

TCRA was in Springfield Tuesday in the event the committee had questions regarding Illinois' civil union law, which went into effect in June.

Equality Illinois, which had presented a petition urging the Springfield mayor and the committee not to discriminated against couples in a civil union, commended the reversal.

"We commend the LGBT community and our allies in Springfield for speaking out in favor of equal treatment for each and every couple," Randy Hannig, Jr., Director of Public Policy for Equality Illinois, said.