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SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA / A news summary

Board Refuses to Rescind Benefits for Gay Partners

October 04, 2000

VENTURA — The Board of Supervisors on Tuesday refused to back down from its decision to grant insurance benefits for the gay and unmarried partners of county employees.

More than two dozen speakers, many of them gay rights opponents from church groups, including an Orange County preacher, lambasted the board for its vote two weeks ago.

Opponents said an insurance package that covers the homosexual and live-in partners of county employees sends a wrong message to children and is an inappropriate use of taxpayer money.

They were countered by advocates from local gay and lesbian advocacy groups who supported the board's vote.

Four of the five supervisors refused to reverse their earlier approval, saying expanded health benefits are fair and necessary to attract talented employees in a tight labor market. Some of the supervisors made it clear from the start that they would not be changing their minds.

"I don't want to mislead you folks and make you think your passion will make a difference," Supervisor Susan Lacey of Ventura said to the crowd near the beginning of a nearly three-hour comment session. "If it was fair and just then, it's still fair and just."

Supervisor Frank Schillo, meanwhile, urged his colleagues to rescind the unanimous decision. The Thousand Oaks supervisor said he was unaware two weeks ago that we was approving an expansion of benefits.

Schillo argued that to extend the benefits could be a strain on taxpayers.

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