The City of Fort Lauderdale unanimously passed health insurance for domestic partners of its employees Wednesday.
Miriam Richter, a local trademark attorney, spearheaded the campaign to get the benefits extended.
“I needed a group [insurance] plan. I just decided it was about time that the City of Fort Lauderdale got into the 21st century. I can’t buy a group plan because there’s no such thing as a group of one,” she said.
Richter is a self-employed attorney whose medical insurance coverage end in November. Her partner of 17 years is a city employee.
To get the ball rolling, Richter met with Fort Lauderdale Mayor Jack Seiler. He asked her to put together a report detailing the costs associated with adding domestic partners to the current health plan. It took some time, but once the data was collected, the item was put on the city’s agenda for its July meeting.
At that meeting, City Manager Lee Feldman advised the commission that giving employees the option of adding domestic partners to the City’s self-insured employee health insurance plan could be done with minimal impact on the plan. And while there were some commissioners who spoke out against the idea, in the end, the commission agreed to draft a resolution, which was then passed Wednesday. Benefits will go in to effect January 1.
After it passed Richter was ecstatic. “I’m very happy. I’m in a state of disbelief. I grew up in New York City, where you can’t just call the mayor’s office. I’m very reassured that we have a system of government that lets us have an impact. The city of Fort Lauderdale is very approachable, they make themselves available, they listen and do the right thing.”
Now Richter is ready to take advantage of the new benefits.
“As soon as open enrollment comes around my partner said ‘whatever they offer you’re on it,’” Richter said.
Richter said she didn’t do it by herself. Others such as former mayor of Broward county Ken Keechl and President and Founder of the Palm Beach County Human Rights Council Rand Hoch also played a role.