Legislators push for domestic partner benefits for state employees


by Andy Birkey | March 11, 2009 • The same-sex partners of state employees are currently denied the state paid life insurance and hospital, medical and dental benefits that are currently offered to married state employees, but a bill introduced last week would change that. Currently over 300 of Minnesota’s largest employers offer domestic partner benefits to their employers.

Andy Birkey lives in Minneapolis. He is an LGBT community advocate and blogs on politcial, social, and community issues. Read his blog at Eleventh Avenue South

Under Gov. Jesse Ventura, domestic partners of state employees had benefits — for about 6 months. In 2003, a Republican led House refused to ratify a labor contract that contained the benefits and 85 families lost their health and life insurance benefits.

While the bill would add domestic partner to state employment benefits, it does not specify that those partners be same-sex. According to the bill:

“Domestic partner” means a person who has entered into a committed interdependent relationship with another adult, where the partners: are responsible for each other’s basic common welfare; share a common residence and intend to do so indefinitely; are not related by blood or adoption to an extent that would prohibit marriage in this state; and are legally competent and qualified to enter into a contract.

The Minnesota Senate passed a similar bill in 2007, but DFL leaders took the measure out of a state omnibus spending bill as a concession to Republicans.

The bill is sponsored by Sens. Sandy Pappas, DFL-St. Paul; Richard Cohen, DFL-St. Paul; Ann Rest, DFL-New Hope; and Tom Bakk, DFL-Cook.