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Family Partner issue Debated

Councillors Shout Over Extension of Domestic Benefits

By Julian E. Barnes, Crimson Staff Writer

A quibble turned into a unbridled yelling match Wednesday as City Councillors traded charges of "political correctness" and "homophobia" over an amendment to an ordinance that, if passed, would extend family benefits to the partners of gay city employees.

The City Council held a special hearing Wednesday to debate a amendment offered by Councillor William H. Walsh designed to broaden the definition of domestic partner to include siblings and other family members in addition to gay couples.

On a five to four vote, the council moved to establish a mayoral committee to discuss the proposed changes to the ordinance. The council is scheduled to vote on the entire ordinance in September.

Walsh and the other Independent councillors who voted against further study of the amendment accused the progressive majority endorsed by the Cambridge Civic Associated (CCA) of trying to kill the measure in subcommittee. But the CCA majority said that while they agreed in principle to Walsh's proposal, the amendment was hastily worded and required more research to prevent abuse.

Walsh countered with charges that the progressive majority was acting "politically correct" by awarding rights to gay couples but not other domestic partnerships.

"People feel that anything that is politically correct gets adopted quickly," said Walsh, who added that by approving special legislation for gay couples the council was ignoring the rights of other groups who were "just as much of non-traditional family."

But Cyr said that his objection was only that the same amount of research that went into the original ordinance be put into the proposed amendment.

"Calling it politically correct insults the effort that went into legislation that we are discussing here," Cyr said.

But when Walsh retorted: "I say it's political correctness," Cyr began yelling into his microphone.

Ignoring the CCA-endorsed councillor, Walsh rose from his chair to exit the council chamber. Cyr protested that Walsh was not listening to him and asked the Independent councillor to sit down. Walsh turned to, Cyr,pointed to his empty paper cup and walked to thewater bubbler.

Cyr, ignoring Councillor Alice K.Wolf's callsfor order continued chastising Walsh. "This isabout a new right wing politicalcorrectness...this is about beating the drum ofhomophobia," Cyr said.

And privately at least one CCA councillorsuggested that the Independents were opposed tothe entire domestic partners proposal and wereusing Walsh's amendment as an excues to vote downordinance.

The mayoral commission established byWednesday's meeting will research ways toimplement Walsh's proposal without leaving thesystem open to abuse.

Although the members of the committee have yetto be appointed Mayor Kenneth E. Reeves '72 saidWalsh will be a member. It is also highly likelythat Wolf, who sponsored the domestic partnersmeasure, will serve on the committee.

It is unclear whether the committee will have areport ready in time for the September vote on theordi

Cyr, ignoring Councillor Alice K.Wolf's callsfor order continued chastising Walsh. "This isabout a new right wing politicalcorrectness...this is about beating the drum ofhomophobia," Cyr said.

And privately at least one CCA councillorsuggested that the Independents were opposed tothe entire domestic partners proposal and wereusing Walsh's amendment as an excues to vote downordinance.

The mayoral commission established byWednesday's meeting will research ways toimplement Walsh's proposal without leaving thesystem open to abuse.

Although the members of the committee have yetto be appointed Mayor Kenneth E. Reeves '72 saidWalsh will be a member. It is also highly likelythat Wolf, who sponsored the domestic partnersmeasure, will serve on the committee.

It is unclear whether the committee will have areport ready in time for the September vote on theordi

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