One Small Step Towards Equality, One Large Step for Austin

Austin + Domestic Partner Benefits = Reality

On October 24, City Council passed new requirements for Austin's economic incentives program. Workers for companies awarded these incentives are now entitled to a living wage floor, health insurance, and domestic partner benefits… with one small hitch.

CM Mike Martinez

Council Members Mike Martinez, Laura Morrison, and Kathie Tovo sponsored the resolution.

In combing over the fine print, however, a loophole still exists. During the three-hour debate, opponents, including spokespeople for contractors' associations and the Greater Austin Chamber of Commerce, fretted that the new requirements might inhibit some companies looking for incentives. Those concerns were addressed by an amendment by CM Chris Riley. If a compelling enough argument is made, council can award exemptions from the requirements to certain economic incentive recipients.

While the Great Austin Chamber got its way, it comes as no surprise that The Austin Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce fully supports domestic partnership benefits in all venues and has for quite some time. “Businesses that are moving to Austin or expanding in Austin and want to receive economic development incentives must be held to a higher standard — a standard that reflects the beliefs of Austin taxpayers,” says AGLCC president, Jimmy Flannigan.

In AGLCC's press release applauding City Council, the gay chamber further promised Austinites that the "leaders of AGLCC will continue to work with council members and city officials to ensure LGBT residents and businesses in Austin are on equal footing.”

Once the amendment was incorporated, the resolution passed 6-1. And here we thought nothing good would come from the never-ending Marriott debacle.

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