FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Date: Tuesday, July 7, 1998
|Release #319 -98|
Introductory 303-A represents a significant step forward in the human rights continuum. Specifically, this legislation will extend to domestic partners the various provisions applicable to spouses in the Administrative Code and the City Charter, as well as health benefits provided by the City to City employees and retirees and their eligible family members pursuant to stipulation or collective bargaining agreements.
Additionally, this legislation will codify Mayoral Executive Orders spanning the previous two Administrations that established several rights and procedures relative to domestic partnerships.
Such Mayoral Executive Orders have provided for a procedure for City residents to register their domestic partnerships in the office of the City Clerk. These orders have further provided, among other things, that 1) registered domestic partners are eligible for visitation rights in City hospitals and correctional facilities; 2) City employees with registered domestic partnerships are eligible for child care leave and bereavement leave on the same basis as those benefits are afforded to employees with regard to their spouses; and 3) a registered domestic partnership is evidence of the right to succession to tenancy rights in facilities operated by the New York City Housing Authority and the Department of Housing Preservation and Development.
In addition, Intro. 303-A amends the City collective bargaining law to state that it is the City's policy to make benefits available to domestic partners of City employees on the same basis as the City makes benefits available to the spouses of City employees.
As of April of 1998, there were approximately 8,700 couples registered as domestic partners in New York City. More than 55 percent of those registered domestic partners were heterosexual couples, and less than 45 percent were same sex couples. Almost 40 percent of registered domestic partnerships have accessed City health benefits available to partners of City employees and retirees.
It should also be noted that along with the benefits afforded to these individuals come certain obligations. For example, domestic partners will be required, as City employees are required, to disclose their domestic partner's relevant information on their annual conflict of interest reports.
This landmark legislation represents a logical step forward in ensuring that those couples who choose to live in economically dependent and committed relationships continue to receive these important rights, benefits and protections and equal treatment under the law, free from discrimination. This Administration has always been committed to equal treatment under the law for all people, regardless of race, religion, national origin, gender or sexual orientation. I am proud to have introduced and I am prepared to sign into law this important piece of legislation.
For the reasons previously stated, I will now sign the bill.