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City might recognize same-sex unions

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Richmond City Council will consider legislation next month that would extend employment benefits to the spouses of city employees in same-sex marriages.

The bill would expand the city’s definition of spouse to “include spouses in same sex marriages that have legally occurred in other states.”

A public hearing on the ordinance is scheduled to take place during the council’s Sept. 9 meeting. Prior to that, council’s subcommittee on Governmental Operations will consider the paper and issue a recommendation to the full council on July 25.

Three councilmen are listed as patrons of the ordinance: Parker Agelasto, Chris Hilbert and Charles Samuels.

Agelasto first proposed the change. Background attached to the draft ordinance cites the Supreme Court opinion on the Defense of Marriage Act: “This definition spouse is consistent with the federal definition of spouse, as the federal government now includes same sex partners in marriages that have occurred legally in other states.”

City council’s policy analysts were unable to determine how much the change might cost the city and list its fiscal impact as “to be determined.”

Update: The city's attorney, Allen Jackson, says even if it passes the ordinance would require action from the General Assembly before benefits can be extended.

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