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SAVE Dade breaking news: Miami commission passes domestic partner ordinance in 5-0 vote

A SAVE Dade news release announcing the vote:

MIAMI, FL - Thursday, June 11, 2009 - The City of Miami Commission voted  5 to 0  to adopt a Domestic Partnership Ordinance this morning, becoming the third municipality in Miami-Dade County to do so. Commissioners Angel Gonzalez, Marc Sarnoff, Joe M. Sanchez, Tomas P. Regalado and Michelle Spence-Jones voted in favor of the Ordinance.

The new Ordinance will allow the City of Miami to offer health benefits to the declared domestic partners and their children of city employees in the same manner as the city offers such benefits to spouses of married heterosexual employees. The Ordinance was similarly adopted by the City of Miami Beach and the City of North Miami.  Miami-Dade County also offers similar benefits to county employees as the result of work done by SAVE Dade and its partners for an ordinance passed in May of last year.

Commissioner Marc Sarnoff said, "Providing employment benefits, including healthcare, to the domestic partners of our City of Miami employees is a common sense idea that has been far too long in coming. This is nothing more than treating people equally. I am proud to say our City is doing the right thing."

Asked about the ordinance, Chairman Commissioner Joe Sanchez replied, "This allows us to recruit and retain the best and brightest workers for the City of Miami by offering benefits to domestic partners. This reaffirms our strong belief that all people are equal in Miami, the City of diversity."

One such employee is Melissa Llera, a City of Miami Firefighter and SAVE Dade volunteer, who has been in a committed relationship with her partner Christie for over 12 years. They have a child together and now both her partner and child will be eligible for health coverage as a result of this Ordinance.

"We thank the Miami's city commission's leadership in recognizing that the families of all city employees deserve fair and equitable treatment," said SAVE Dade's Executive Director, C.J. Ortuno.

It was the combined efforts of Executive Director C.J. Ortuno, former Executive Director Heddy Pena, SAVE Dade's Political Committee, and many volunteers that built the support needed for the Ordinance's successful passage.  SAVE Dade also received assistance in developing the language for the ordinance from the LGBT Advocacy Project of the ACLU of Florida, and received assistance in turning out supporters for the commission hearing from other organizations, including Equality Florida.

C.J. Ortuno worked closely with the Ordinance's co-sponsors, Commissioner Marc Sarnoff and Mayor Manny Diaz, to ensure the Domestic Partnership Ordinance was properly vetted and complied with all legal requirements.  After legal review by the city attorney, the Ordinance passed first reading on May 14, 2009 with a 4-0 vote.

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