The Agenda

Councilman wants city contractors to equalize benefits

Openly gay Long Beach, Calif., City Councilman Robert Garcia says contractors who offer spousal benefits to their employees should be made to offer equal benefits to their gay and lesbian employees as a condition of doing business with the city.  Garcia, a Victory Fund endorsee who won election to the city council in April, has introduced legislation that would implement such a policy, according to the Long Beach Press-Telegram:

“Everyone deserves equal treatment in the workplace,” Garcia, one of two openly gay council members, said in a statement released today. “This is an important step forward for equality and civil rights in Long Beach.”

Second District Councilwoman Suja Lowenthal is co-sponsoring the ordinance.

The state of California already has an equal benefits ordinance in place, as do other large cities including Los Angeles, Oakland, Seattle, San Francisco, Portland and Minneapolis, according to Garcia.

Long Beach’s ordinance would include some exceptions, such as in the case of a public emergency, when a company doesn’t offer spousal benefits to any employees, or if there are too few companies that offer a particular service to allow selectivity based on benefits.

Kim Woods, executive director of the LGBT Center in Long Beach, put her support behind the proposed ordinance.

“We are thrilled that Councilmember Garcia has proposed this historic ordinance,” Woods said. “The LGBT community is united in supporting this important measure.”

Photo by JOHN GILHOOLEY for The District Weekly.