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Council Pushes for Domestic Partner Benefits

By Lauren R. Dorgan, Crimson Staff Writer

The Cambridge City Council last night made the first move toward reclaiming its power to grant domestic partnerships marriage benefits, following the annulment of the city's 1992 ordinance by the state legislature earlier this year.

The council unanimously ordered City Manager Robert W. Healy to write a petition to the state legislature requesting the reinstatement of Cambridge's home-rule decision making power on the issue. If the petition is approved, the council is expected to reinstitute legal benefits of marriage, including health insurance, for the domestic partners of city employees.

Cambridge had been the first city in the state to offer domestic partners of city employees the benefits of marriage under the Domestic Partner Ordinance passed in 1992. That bill was annulled earlier this year when the state legislature passed the Definition of Marriage Act, which limited the benefits of marriage to "a legal relationship between one man and one woman."

"For a long time, we weren't able to provide benefits for all, then we were able to do it, and now we are unable again," said Councillor Kenneth E. Reeves '71.

Speaking during the public comment period, Laura Moskowitz, who identified herself as the domestic partner of a city employee, said that the recent change in Cambridge's benefits has caused problems beyond the purely financial.

"It's been very distressing to explain to our 9-year-old why only one of her parents can be on our health insurance," she said.

While the petition would likely not change the legislature's recently passed marriage policy for the whole state, it would allow municipalities to individually define who should receive civic compensation of marriage.

-Staff writer Lauren R. Dorgan can be reached at dorgan@fas.harvard.edu.

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