St. Pete likely to extend benefits to domestic partners of police officers

09/03/10 Kate Bradshaw
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It’s looking like the City of St. Petersburg will extend health benefits to same sex partners of the city’s police officers. The city is following in the footsteps of Pinellas County and the City of Tampa.

When St. Petersburg Mayor Bill Foster was elected last November, the city’s more liberal residents may have been skeptical of the level of tolerance the conservative Christian would bring to the dais. Yet Foster has reportedly said he’s keeping his faith out of his policies. Critics may say this is reflected in the way he’s tackling homelessness. But it may also show through in his support of offering health benefits to domestic partners, including same-sex partners, of St. Pete police officers.

Steve Kornell is St. Petersburg’s first openly gay city council member. He tells WMNF that it’s about equal rights, and not religious beliefs.

Kornell adds he thinks his fellow council members will support the move.

But while many view this as a step in the right direction, the police department’s labor contract with the city is just one part of the picture. Kornell says he hopes all city employees will see the same benefits.

Council member Kornell says the St. Petersburg Association of Firefighters and the Florida Public Employee Services Union are also likely to adopt domestic partner benefits for their employees when they renew their contracts with the city. Tampa, which now offers these benefits to all city employees, began providing them to police officers in 2004. The Pinellas Sheriff’s Department started doing so in 2007.

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