HALLANDALE BEACH

Hallandale Beach leaders may require companies doing business with city to offer domestic partnership benefits

 

cteproff@MiamiHerald.com

Any companies doing work for the city of Hallandale Beach may soon be required to offer domestic partnership benefits to their employees if they provide equivalent benefits to married couples.

On Wednesday, the commission will decide whether to beef up its procurement code to match Broward County and several other cities that will hire only companies that offer equal rights to all employees.

“Everyone should be treated equally,” said Hallandale Beach Vice Mayor Alexander Lewy, who is sponsoring the requirement.

“I do not support spending our tax dollars on companies that discriminate based on whether you can or cannot be married,” Lewy said.

Hallandale Beach began offering equal benefits to domestic partners in 2006.

Wednesday’s proposal — which applies to businesses with five or more employees, and for contracts over $100,000 — comes on the heels of Hallandale Beach becoming what is believed to be the first in the nation to offer a tax reimbursement to employees in domestic partnerships.

In November, the commission agreed to give employees with domestic partners what could amount to be between $500 and $900 to offset federal taxes that the employee pays on benefits for a partner.

Stratton Pollitzer, the deputy director of Equality Florida, the state’s largest gay rights group, called Hallandale Beach’s efforts toward equality “tremendous.”

“They have set a standard,” said Pollitzer, who added that West Palm Beach has since followed suit on the tax break and Miami Beach has given initial approval to a similar law. “Hallandale Beach is really stepping up and doing all they can do to treat their employees and residents fairly.”

Gay rights activist Michael Rajner said Tuesday that Broward County, which passed the law in 2011, has already had to turn down several bids because of the requirement. He is impressed that Hallandale Beach is jumping on board.

“Hallandale Beach is a city that does not have gay and lesbian organizations or bars, yet it’s a city saying that we value the diversity of our residents and the diversity of those who patronize the businesses within our city,” he said. “And that’s to be applauded.”

In addition to the equal rights requirement for businesses, the city will also on Wednesday consider giving preferences to local business. The preference code will give someone who both lives in the city and owns a business in the city the first shot at a contract.

The meeting will be held at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday at City Hall, 400 S. Federal Hwy.

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