Lambda, Chicago Succeed in Defending Benefits for City Workers

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Judge rejects attempt to take coverage from partners of lesbian & gay workers

Date

Date: 
09/16/1997

(CHICAGO, September 16, 1997) -- Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund and the City of Chicago in county court on Tuesday defeated an attempt by religious extremists to block benefits for partners of lesbian and gay city workers.

"The City is simply trying to give its valued lesbian and gay employees a compensation package that is at least close to what it offers everyone else," said Patricia M. Logue, managing attorney for Lambda's Midwest Regional Office in Chicago.

Logue, with attorneys for the City and for a group of anti-gay extremists, appeared before Judge Thomas Durkin at a hearing in Cook County Circuit Court. The judge rejected the effort to stop Chicago's domestic partner benefits program, ruling that the City has the authority to make such personnel decisions.

"It is regrettable that anti-gay forces manufactured a legal attack even on this basic effort at fairness. We are glad to see it defeated today," Logue said.

The Chicago City Council passed a domestic partner ordinance giving health and other benefits to same-sex partners of city employees on March 19. Local religious extremists challenged the program, claiming that the ordinance exceeded Chicago's home rule power.

Lambda joined the City to defend the program, intervening in the interests of gay city workers on behalf of two employees, Cheryl Tadin and Sandra King. Tadin has been a city employee for 12 years and is in a 12-year relationship. King has been a city employee for six years and is in a five-year relationship

After Lambda and the City blocked the opposition's motion for a temporary restraining order last spring, the ordinance took effect on May 16. Today's ruling means the program remains in effect.

"Chicago's domestic partner ordinance widens the safety net to include the families of its lesbian and gay workers," said Beatrice Dohrn, Lambda legal director at the group's New York headquarters. "Chicago is taking a positive role among public and private employers throughout the country," she said.

Today, more than 50 cities and counties and four states as well as about 500 other employers offer domestic partner benefits.

The case, Crawford, et al. v. City of Chicago, was brought by the Rev. Hiram Crawford and others. Crawford also vigorously opposed the Chicago Human Rights Ordinance.

Case No. 97 CH 5674

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