LINKEDINCOMMENTMORE

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- One week after Mecklenburg leaders approved medical and leave benefits for the same sex partners of county employees, city leaders confirmed they will discuss a similar measure as soon as next month.

Mayor Anthony Foxx said council will examine the city's non-discrimination policy, which does not currently include sexual orientation.

Benefits for the domestic partners of city employees could be considered as part of the policy discussion, or considered seperately, Foxx told NewsChannel 36.

There s been a lot of bipartisan interest in taking up the issue, said Foxx, adding he anticipates asking city staff to compile a study on extending medical and leave benefits to domestic partners. I think that would be the responsible thing to do because right now we don t know what the fiscal impact would be.

A 2004 study compiled by the city concluded the cost of extending benefits to the domestic partners of employees could cost as much as $300,000 annually.

Council members took no action on the 2004 study.

Tom Warshauer, a city employee and proponent of domestic partner benefits, said he was happy to hear council is planning to take another look at its medical and leave policies.

It s timely for us to be making sure that everyone in the city government is treated equitably, he said.

A discussion on benefits for the domestic partners of city employees is expected to be as contentious as last week's debate before Mecklenburg County Commissioners, which included some passionate remarks from religious leaders, gay rights activists and elected officials.

City council member Andy Dulin said the issue is tough for any of us to talk about.

Dulin said he is not judging the lifestyle of any city employee when considering the extended benefits.

I do have a problem though with the city arbitrarily saying we will cover what amounts to a roommate, he said.

Dulin, along with council's two other Republican members, Warren Cooksey and Edwin Peacock, said they would not support the extension of city benefits to domestic partners.

Foxx, who has not taken a stance on domestic partner benefits, said a study of the issue could take at least two months.

Council could vote on a benefits plan before open enrollment for city employees begins next fall.

Read or Share this story: http://www.wcnc.com/story/news/local/2014/06/19/10927183/