- Associated Press - Monday, July 6, 2015

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) - State employees who are married to someone of the same sex can’t yet put their spouses on their health insurance policies, but local government workers in Lawrence have been doing it for years.

The city of Lawrence, Douglas County and the Lawrence School district all offer family benefits to employees, their spouses and domestic partners, regardless of gender or whether the couples are legally married, the Lawrence Journal-World (https://bit.ly/1M4w5gp ) reported.

Offering benefits to domestic partners meant family health coverage and other benefits were not a right of marriage, according to assistant Douglas County administrator Sarah Plinsky. It will be easier to administer those benefit policies and less costly for families after the recent decision by the U.S. Supreme Court legalizing same-sex marriage nationwide, she said.

“We had to work through a very complicated taxing issue because it was taxable income to spouses,” Plinsky said. “It required a lot more work because it’s a noncash benefit received by spouses. The decision makes our life easier. Plus, there was a tax impact for the employee’s spouse. But now they will not have a tax impact.”

The city of Lawrence was the first to find a loophole around the Kansas constitutional amendment, adopted in 2005, by establishing a “domestic partner registry.” It helped many people whose employers required some form of legal recognition of a relationship before they would extend family health benefits.

Since 2007, when the registry was established, 74 couples have been registered, said Lawrence Interim City Manager Diane Stoddard. Domestic partners and married same-sex couples also have been covered under the city’s group health plan since January 2014, she said.

The Lawrence school district has been providing health and leave benefits to same-sex couples for at least a decade, said human resources director David Cunningham.


Information from: Lawrence (Kan.) Journal-World, https://www.ljworld.com

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