RALEIGH, N.C. — By a one-vote margin, the Durham City Council agreed to extend health benefits to domestic partners. Durham joins Carrboro and Chapel Hill as the only North Carolina cities that offer domestic benefits. Wake County residents disagree about whether to follow their lead.
"I think it's wrong. What happens when they break up? It's not like they're a married couple," said Andrew Shipman, who opposed domestic benefits.
"I think it's a good thing for Durham to do, and since they have done it, I think it would be a good thing for Wake County to at least look at and appraise," said Mark Welsh, who supports domestic benefits.
"It normalizes homosexuality in our society and I don't think homosexuality is normal," said Danny Gilchrist, who opposes domestic benefits.
"Conventional couples, noncoventional couples, I think that if that is your lifetime partner, you should be offered those benefits," said Marian Messina, who supports domestic benefits.
Wake County leaders say the issue of providing domestic benefits has never come up. Raleigh leaders say they have had just a few inquiries over the years. The city will not put domestic benefits on the agenda just because of Durham's vote, but the council would consider it if a request was made.
"We certainly pay attention to what other cities were doing, both locally as well as nationwide and we would look at the benefits in the private sector, which is what we're trying to match," Raleigh Mayor Charles Meeker said.
Meeker said if such a request was made in Raleigh, it would have to be studied by the City Manager and the Human Resources Department before it got to the City Council.