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Springfield Civil Union Benefits Reversal Vote Thrown Out by Judge

By Nottage and Ward on February 22, 2012

In January, the decision to deny spousal benefits to Springfield city employees in civil unions was reversed by a unanimous vote of the Joint Labor/Management Health Care Committee. After the vote was initially denied in December, Springfield Mayor Mike Houston publicly declared his support of awarding spousal benefits to city employees in civil unions. Soon after that public announcement, the committee reversed its decision and granted benefits. Unfortunately, that reversal vote has since been thrown out by a Circuit Court Judge for violating the Open Meetings Act, according to The Windy City Times.

An Illinois Times reporter had filed suit after the Committee held a closed-door vote on extending spousal insurance benefits to civil union spouses in January. The Committee did unanimously vote to extend the benefits, but, because the Committee was a public committee, they were required to hold open meetings. Because the vote was conducted behind closed doors, a Judge ruled in favor of the reporter’s suit, which made the vote void.

This unexpected delay in granting benefits to civil union spouses of city employees may mean that benefits will not be available by the beginning of the city’s fiscal year in March. The Executive Director of The Civil Rights Agenda (TCRA), though he supports the Open Meetings Act, is disappointed that the ruling invalidates the vote which granted equal benefits to city employees in civil unions. It is hoped that the Committee will not hesitate to hold another vote so that benefits may be available in March.

If you are thinking of entering into or are currently in a civil union with your spouse, you may have many questions as to which rights are granted and which are denied. At Nottage and Ward, our experienced civil union lawyers in Illinois are committed to helping you understand your legal rights and options. Call us today at (312) 332-2915 and we will be happy to answer all of your questions and address all your concerns.

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