Local News

Debate Continues About Benefits For Domestic Partners In Durham County

Posted April 7, 2003

— City employees in Durham already get benefits for their domestic partners. Now the county is talking about it. County commissioners got an earful at their work session Monday morning from passionate people on both sides of the issue.

Durham County employee and mother Aviva Shira Starr echoed the feelings of about half of the people in a Monday hearing.

"Health care is a basic need. It should not be a benefit, it should be a right," she said.

Starr and others came to the county commissioners work session to speak their minds on whether the partners of county employees should get benefits. Many gays and lesbians told commissioners their relationships are no different than those of heterosexual couples.

"I wanted people to understand I mow my lawn and bake cookies and take my kids to school just like so many other people in this community," said Sara Terry, who supports extending benefits.

On the other side of the room were activists who oppose extending benefits to domestic partners.

"Why should God continue to bless America when we at the city level, at the country level, at the state level, at the federal level, continue to make laws that are contrary to God's laws?" said Rev. Rosetta Jones.

Many of the people who oppose the proposed plan argued on moral and religious grounds.

"There is either righteousness or unrighteousness and today, I chose to stand in the place of righteousness," said Fred Jones.

Monday's work session simply gave people a chance to speak up. The commissioners did not take any action on the matter Monday. A group of employees is requesting commissioners take a vote, but it is not clear when or if that will happen.

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