News (USA)

Asheville city council expected to take up gay rights issues

Asheville flagASHEVILLE, NC — With the election of three new City Council members, Asheville will consider extending benefits to same-sex partners of city employees.

On Friday, Councilman-elect Gordon Smith said he hopes to extend domestic partner benefits as one of his first priorities once new council members are sworn in December 8.

A majority of incoming and sitting council members said in interviews Friday on top priorities for the new council that they support providing benefits like health insurance and bereavement leave to partners of gay employees in committed relationships.

Smith during his campaign said that gays in committed relationships should have “equal rights under the law” as married heterosexuals and the city should lead the way by changing its rules.

On the campaign trail, Smith routinely spoke out on LGBT issues.

In July he wrote that gays and lesbians should have “equal rights under the law. To deny these benefits is to relegate gay and lesbian couples to second-class status.”.

If Asheville makes the change, it will be one of few North Carolina cities and counties offering benefits to same-sex couples.

Full story at the Asheville Citizen-Times.

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