Should Dallas County offer domestic partner benefits?
DALLAS – The Dallas County Commissioners Court voted 3-2 along party lines Tuesday to approve medical benefits for domestic partnerships.
The approval provides the money for couples who aren't married, be they gay or straight. It's an issue guaranteed to divide.
“There is simply no place for pernicious partisanship when it comes to equality," argued Rafael McDonnell of the Resource Center Dallas, speaking in favor of the proposed stipend for domestic partners.
Others took the podium to argue against it.
"This is utterly ridiculous and totally irresponsible position on your part,” said Dallas resident Debbie Morozzo. “This is a waste of taxpayers’ money."
The issue is whether Dallas County should provide a stipend of up to $295 per year for county employees' domestic partners who otherwise would not qualify for medical benefits. The three Democrats on the commission favored the move while the two Republicans were opposed.
"Are we going to fund obese people?,” asked Commissioner Maurine Dickey, a Republican. “Are we going to start funding smokers? Are we going to fund people who have blue Pontiacs?"
An otherwise civil discourse later turned personal when Commissioner Dickey called out a member of the audience.
"I would just like to ask that he refrain from taking pictures of me during,” said Dickey, in the middle of the discussion. “I don't care about name calling, I'm just concerned about this person taking a picture of me."
The problem was that the person she was referring to was really a woman –– the resident in the audience said she was taking pictures of her colleague who was speaking at the podium at the time and not taking pictures of Dickey.
After the meeting, that resident, C.D. Kirven, challenged Commissioner Dickey to learn more about the issue before calling people out.
"I'm not offended by Dickey calling me a ‘he’,” said Kirven. “I would offer that Ms. Dickey go to the resource center and try to get some training on pronouns and ask someone before they call them a ‘he.’"
The measure passed on a 3-2 vote. Officials say offering domestic partners an insurance stipend will cost the county no more than $100 thousand per year.
After the meeting, Dickey did not offer an apology.