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County Extends Health Care Benefits to Same-Sex Couples

The decision comes one month after an arbitrator ruled the county must grant benefits to same-sex partners of police officers.

Baltimore County will offer health care benefits to same-sex couples who were legally married in other states.

The announcement Thursday comes nearly one month after an to the same-sex partners of police officers. The ruling applies to couples who were legally married in other states.

Currently, same-sex marriage is not legal in Maryland. The state also does not currently recognize those marriages that are performed in other states.

The county will begin offering the benefits on Jan. 1, 2012 after the change was approved earlier this week by the county's Health Care Review Committee, according to a statement released Thursday.

"I am pleased that the Health Care Review Committee acted on my recommendation this week. Extending these benefits to couples legally married in other states is the right thing to do," County Executive Kevin Kamenetz said in the statement.

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Al Carlson December 16, 2011 at 03:55 AM
Really? What century do you live in? Is this a joke?
Dkennylee December 16, 2011 at 05:38 AM
You should be able to get health insurence if you want it but the goverment should not give it free to anyone and what in tje world happen to you to be so hatefull
Tim December 16, 2011 at 05:43 AM
ahhh religious people. I find them oh so entertaining.
David Robert Crews December 16, 2011 at 08:08 AM
It's for the children. I believe that a male employee's health care benefits were originally extended to cover his wife for a solid reason - the wife bears his children, helps him do well at work by cooking his food, cleaning his home and clothes, helping him make good decisions, plus she gives love and affection to him while receiving the same from him. I seem to recall that a few decades ago a husband was not yet allowed to be included on his working wife's employee health care benefits. But the couple's children are covered by their mom's benefits. Then, after long, intense legal battles, husbands became allowed to be included in their wives' earned health care benefits. At the heart of shared spousal health care benefits is having the children of heterosexual married couples being covered by one of their parent's earned health care benefits. Shared employee health care benefits for families were put in place so that heterosexual married couples are more able to raise healthy children. People do not make a "choice to practice the homosexual lifestyle." Homosexuals are who they were born as. Our human race is evolving into the future; homosexuality is a natural, evolutionary, factor, but I don't know exactly why. I believe marriage is for heterosexual couples. Two homosexuals who love and care for each other should be allowed to legally bond in a civil ceremony. But not then qualifying for their same-sex partner's employee health care benefits.
David Robert Crews December 16, 2011 at 08:29 AM
A gazillion people in umpteen other states legally smoke marihuana. If Baltimore County Police find any of those marihuana smokers from out-of-state smoking or possessing their medicinal herb here in Balto. Co., are the police going to allow in Maryland what an out-of-state judicial system has made legal in that marihuana smoker's state? Looks to me like it should be allowed - based on the county deciding that they shall "offer health care benefits to same-sex couples who were legally married in other states."
Rob December 16, 2011 at 10:20 AM
Good job the the Co. Exe. to promote and encourage the spread of HIV.
Kate December 16, 2011 at 12:13 PM
That's hysterical. Wow. Yes, offering partner benefits is spreading HIV.
Marty Warren December 16, 2011 at 12:32 PM
Who's going to pay for it. The insurance companies exposure will go up so they will raise our rates. How about county pensions. That will cost our government more money so our taxes will go up.
Brandon December 16, 2011 at 12:34 PM
Marriage Reciprocity has a long history in this country. Buying wine through mail order has not, and the marijuana example is more like the wine issue than the marriage issue. Not a match. the argument doesn't work. Kevin Kamenetz is right, "it's the right thing to do."
Mark Patro December 16, 2011 at 12:51 PM
Many same-sex couples already have children. Some adopt children. And these families already exist. These families will continue to exist into the future. Same-sex couples do not ask to "be allowed", to form relationship or families. We do this because it is intrinsic to being a human being. in the end, Family=Family... PFLAG Baltimore County embraces and celebrates all kinds of families and we applaud the County Council and the County Executive for this inclusive action.
Aliza Worthington December 16, 2011 at 01:23 PM
David - I really respect your perspective, and appreciate how you've detailed the health care issue historically, even if I disagree with your premise about homosexuals marrying. What you outline, though, is a healthcare policy that has evolved with changing times, gender realities (women in the workplace, increase in single parenting, etc...) and concepts of what constitutes discrimination. In my mind, the next step in this evolution of equal rights is the recognition of marriage and legal spousal benefits for homosexuals. I consider it a basic human right, regardless of sexual orientation. Mark - well said.
Tara McIntyre December 16, 2011 at 01:23 PM
People do not "choose" to practice the homosexual lifestyle any more than one chooses to walk around with brown eyes. Offering health benefits to same sex partners does NOT spread HIV... that's one of the most ridiculous assertions I've heard in years. And who pays for it? The employee does, just like any other company sponsored health plan. Rates are kept low by the employer's fractional contribution and the size of the risk pool. Adding same sex partners does NOT increase the insurance company's risk any more than adding heterosexual spouses would. Think about what this means... these are not cruising predators looking for converts. These are families, people in committed relationships who want nothing more than the rights attributed to the rest of the population. To deny them is more than callous, its discrimination plain and simple. I applaud Baltimore County for taking this important step in the name of compassion and basic human dignity, and I welcome its leadership to the 21st century. Can't say it enough... its about time.
Aliza Worthington December 16, 2011 at 01:44 PM
Bravo.
Tim December 16, 2011 at 04:34 PM
LOL, and heterosexual promiscuity doesn't.
Tim December 16, 2011 at 04:36 PM
Now now Tara. Don't try and reason with religious zealots. There's a reason science and religion are always at odds. Oh, and Catholics, don't mind all those priests worldwide that sexually abuse kids. We wouldn't want to see what's behind the hidden veil, now would we?
aliza stewart December 16, 2011 at 05:01 PM
Marty warren, may I suggest that you being insured is raising my rate? If all of you people who worry about rates going up because of same-sex marriage will be removed from insurance plans, the rate will go way down, and I, a heterosexual mother of a lesbian daughter, her partner and her new born, will pay less. Sounds good to me!
Matt Gibbons December 16, 2011 at 05:30 PM
Glad to hear Howard County has chosen to do this. It makes the world a little better place and sends a positive message to young people. The responses have aslo been interesting. As a gay man, I met my spouse of 24 years, at the gay Catholic group, Dignity. We are still Catholic today. We are also members of PFLAG. We do not have children nor do we have AIDS. We each have our own heath insurance policy, which is not cheap!
hmj December 16, 2011 at 05:57 PM
You should represent Warren Jeffs and Jerry Sandusky. They did not choose to be they way they are and they should not need to conform with the norms of our society. They need equal protection under the law too. Enough with the old fashion norms --- you can do it Tara ---- so go for same sex same family marriage next, as you evolve.
Gomer Pyle December 16, 2011 at 06:59 PM
Tim, not that this has anything to do with this article on health care benefits, but do you honestly believe that the overwhelming majority of Catholics don't have a problem with priests that abuse children? Also why is it that people who do not agree with this decision based on their religious beliefs, whatever religion they may be, are automatically labeled as bigots or religious "nuts" by people like you?
Brandon December 16, 2011 at 07:21 PM
Gomer, when anyone supports that one group of individuals should enjoy a civil right and that others should be excluded from that civil right that person is espousing bigotry. If you or anyone else promotes this type of idea “we” (the generalized community) think of this as bigotry. Therefore we label those kinds of individuals “bigots.” When an individual places labels on other people they tend to be labeled in return.
Michael Klapp December 16, 2011 at 09:29 PM
The Constitution requires that every state honors contracts from every other state. It is called 'Full faith and credit'. It is also why DOMA cannot pass constitutional muster.
hmj December 16, 2011 at 09:48 PM
You are so right about that. In Northern Virginia there is a teacher ( single) that wants to include her adult sister (both live together) on her health plan. The teacher has initiated a law suit to force the issue. In the end, all of this will force employers to offer plans that just cover the employee ---- all others will only be included if the pay a very high additional premium.
Butch Jansen December 16, 2011 at 09:53 PM
The County has now gone down that slippery slope and set a precedent for which it will one day regret! What's next? Hmmmmmmm! I believe that the County should allow others to cover their ailing parents on their health care plans! And then there are "Common Law Marriages!" Maryland doesn't recognize them either but will the County do so? Other states do recognize these types of marriages so will that open up a can of worms for the county if some of their employees happen to be in that situation? Are any of the County Police Officers bonded via a "common law marriage?" Again, where does it end? Marriage was suppose to be about the union of a man and a woman that has the natual ability to pro-create life in the name of the family. Unfortunately, the same-sex arrangement cannot perform that function naturally with two of the same sexes. I truly believe that this is NOT what our founding fathers of this country had in mind. Some things should not be cheapened nor mucked with that diminishes the intrinsic significance of the joining of a husband and wife! This is why our country is going to hell in a hand basket quick! I'm not at all opposed to same-sex unions as they are adults and if they chose to remain lifelong partners, so be it. And if these individuals want to offer coverage to their partners, its their income and policy and they should be allowed to do so. But they'll never be the same as a traditional marriage that is universally recognized.
Brandon December 16, 2011 at 10:00 PM
I'm not a lawyer, but i do not think a "common law marriage" is a contract in the way a signed agreement is.
Dkennylee December 17, 2011 at 01:48 AM
goverment should be out of the marriage biz
ANITA ROSENBERG December 17, 2011 at 01:53 AM
Oh my. I want to flag this as inapropriate but we do have free speech. When were you born?
Tim December 17, 2011 at 05:26 AM
Gomer: First, Religion is a faith based system/concept. Nothing more, nothing less. Now, there's nothing wrong with believing in something. We have religious freedom in this country. My problem is when these beliefs are used to dictate secular governmental policy - with the exception, of course, of how individuals choose to vote. hmj: There are laws, established by our society, that deem people like Jeffs and Sandusky are deviants. Big difference.
rdnkkkgrl helsel December 22, 2011 at 03:20 AM
this just goes to show you how much our country is going down hill its not about religious beliefs its about bible facts our govt is a freakin joke we cant even get health insurance on us let alone gay marriages the bible specifically states that a marriage is supposed to be between man and woman to pro-create life anything else INCLUDING GAY MARRIAGES IS A SIN it also has a few more scriptures about it it is just plain wrong and there the ones who'll have to answer to god for it
Brandon December 22, 2011 at 10:07 AM
it also has 1000 passes that says we should love one another and there's a really big one that says something about not bearing false witness. with that in mind please point out your reference to where it says 'gay marriage is a sin" and then after you sho us that one show us where it specifically says "marriage is only between one man and one woman." I'm hold you to this because you know these things are not mentioned in the Bible as if that really means anything in a SECULAR civil issue... Nobody is telling you how to practice your religion. You seem to forget that there are other people here who do not adhear to your system of beliefs. Our government is based on Our Constitution not your Bible or someones else's Religious book.
Bart December 22, 2011 at 01:11 PM
The Bible has been blamed for a lot of "rules" bandied about by some people. Some people shop through it to serve any purpose they desire. Keep your Bible out of my life, and out of the government.

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