Oct 10, 2012 2:26 AM by David Ortiviz

Same-sex benefits approved after passionate debate

The City of Pueblo will grant equal benefits to city workers in a same sex relationship. The ordinance passed at last night's council meeting by a 6-1 vote, following passionate testimony from both sides.

Council chambers was packed for a public hearing on the issue. Those in favor of the ordinance were allowed to speak first. Ten people testified. The gay rights activists called this a fight for equality in the workplace.

"This is an issue about justice and equality," said Daneya Esgar, with the Colorado Progressive Coalition.

"All families should have the right to be at the birth of a child, be at the side of a very ill loved one," said Dawn DiPrince.

Seven people spoke out against the measure, including several local pastors. They called it an attack on morality.

"The values we hold as a Christian are under attack," Gordon Rodgers, a local pastor.

"It's ridiculous, it provides no benefit to government," said Al Pierson.

Council President Chris Kaufman cast the lone vote against the ordinance. "I've never once imposed my Christian agenda on anybody in the 3 and half years I've been here and just because I stand against this because of my Christian values--as I mentioned my Christian faith doesn't allow me to judge anybody, but it does inquire a level of obedience that is required by scripture and what scripture teaches it that we are to obey the laws until or unless it goes against scriptural principles and that's where I'm standing with this," said Kaufman.

In part this vote means gay and lesbian workers can now add their partners onto their health insurance plans. The city estimates about 8 employees will sign up for these benefits--costing the city about $54,000 a year.



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