City Council Unanimously Passes Equal Benefits Ordinance
Historic Law Maintains City’s Tradition of Support for LGBT Equality
November 19, 2009
Long Beach – The Equal Benefits Ordinance, first introduced by Councilmember Robert Garcia this summer, moved one step closer Tuesday to becoming law in Long Beach. The City Council unanimously agreed with the recommendations of city staff and the Economic Development and Finance Committee, and directed the City Attorney to draft an Equal Benefits Ordinance and return it to Council for final approval.
The EBO, which was cosponsored by Mr. Garcia, representing the First District, and Councilmember Suja Lowenthal of the Second District, will require the City enter into contracts of $100,000 or more with for-profit companies only when those companies provide the same employment benefits to registered domestic partners that are provided to married spouses.
“This is truly a historic day for human rights and equality,” said Councilmember Garcia, “Long Beach is living up to its reputation as a strong supporter of LGBT equality and social justice, and I’m really proud of the Council for moving this forward quickly and unanimously.”
Long Beach joins other California cities including Los Angeles, Oakland, San Francisco, and Berkeley, as well as the State of California and Minneapolis, Miami Beach, Seattle and some counties in the United States that already have EBO’s in place.
As approved by the Council on Tuesday, November 17, the EBO would apply only to contracts of $100,000 or more for the first year the ordinance is in place. After one year, city staff is expected to recommend a lower monetary threshold. The EBO also excludes non-profits, but does apply to certain businesses leasing city property.
The Harbor Department, Airport, and Housing Corporation of Long Beach are not affected by the ordinance, but the motion passed by the Council directs the City Manager to invite and encourage these departments to create their own EBO’s modeled on the City’s.
LGBT activists and other concerned citizens spoke passionately at Tuesday’s meeting about the importance of this measure for equality and justice.
“I was moved by the comments made before Council,” said Councilmember Garcia. “I’m honored to have brought forward this legislation, which will touch so many lives and do so much for the cause of human rights.”
The EBO will come back to Council in a few weeks for two required readings before becoming law.