County delays same-sex marriage benefits deadline

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PITTSBURGH (AP) – One western Pennsylvania county is pushing back a deadline for its employees to marry their same-sex partners in order for those partners to keep health care and other benefits.

Allegheny County has 11 employees with same-sex partners receiving benefits, which were to be terminated Aug. 1.

But County Executive Rich Fitzgerald says that deadline is “too aggressive” so those employees will now be given through June 30, 2015 to marry.

Allegheny County officials are changing the same-sex benefits policy now that a federal judge has allowed same-sex couples to marry in Pennsylvania. The county once limited benefits to those married to county employees, but made an exception years ago for same-sex partners because they couldn’t marry.

Now that homosexual couples can marry, the county is limiting benefits to spouses of employees.

“One of my first official actions as County Executive was to offer same sex benefits to our employees – a fact of which I am very proud,” Fitzgerald said in a statement issued July 2.

“Because same sex couples did not have the same option to formalize their relationship through marriage as opposite sex couples did, offering these benefits put those employees and their families on equal footing with their fellow employees.

“All new county employees, however, will be required to follow the same policy regarding how and when benefits are offered to partners and families.”

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