The Equality for Dutchess County Workers Petition sign now

The Rhinebeck Town Board voted unanimously this May to "approve domestic partners, as defined in state guidelines, for inclusion in Rhinebeck Town employee health benefits."

It's not just Rhinebeck-- Rockland, Suffolk, Nassau, Westchester, Tompkins, and Albany counties, as well as New York State, New York City, Rochester, Ithaca, and Eastchester, have all decided to make sure that their employees have access to health benefits for domestic partners.

It's time for Dutchess County to follow their good examples.

Contact our County Legislature at [email protected] or 486-2100.

Joel Tyner
County Legislator
[email protected]
(845) 876-2488


Domestic partner benefits are generally employment-related. Ten states and the District of Columbia offer domestic partner benefits to the same-sex partners of public employees, as do several dozen U.S. municipalities. Three states-- Hawaii, California, and New Jersey - have enacted laws that give domestic partnerships varying degrees of protections. California's domestic partnership law, which will take effect in January 2005, will provide the broadest array of protections, including eligibility for family leave, other employment and health benefits, the right to sue for wrongful death of partner or inherit from partner as next-of-kin, and access to the step-parent adoption process. California's law only provides some of the hundreds of benefits and obligations conferred upon married couples under state law, and none of the federal rights.
[from ]


"Rhinebeck Town Workers' Benefits Expanded: Domestic Partners Would Also Be Given Health Insurance" by Rasheed Oluwa
by Rasheed Oluwa [Poughkeepsie Journal 5/31/06]

Rhinebeck Highway Superintendent Kathy Kinsella said she doesn't consider the town board's decision to extend health-care benefits to her partner of 19 years to be strictly a gay or straight issue.

"It's about the town's responsibility to extend health care and improve access to all of its employees," said Kinsella, a lesbian. "It's not an economic issue. If the law allowed me to get married, I would get married and the town would still have the economic responsibility to extend this to me."

The town board unanimously passed a resolution to extend health benefits to domestic partners during a board meeting this month.

The motion makes Kinsella's partner eligible to receive medical benefits through the state Health Insurance Program.

Kinsella, who was elected as the town's highway superintendent last year, said the issue came up after she was elected and she found out she was unable to enroll her partner in the town health insurance program.

"It's something we had talked about and the time had clearly come," town Supervisor Steve Block said. "We didn't want to discriminate against any couple who is either not married by choice or aren't allowed to be married."

Block said the motion also affects another worker in the town who is straight and not married.

According to the Empire State Pride Agenda, a statewide lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender civil rights and advocacy organization, Rhinebeck is believed to be the first town in Dutchess County to extend health benefits to domestic partners.

Similar laws passed

Joe Tarver, a spokesman for the organization, said similar laws have been passed in a number of areas in the state, including New York City and the City of Rochester, along with Albany, Tompkins, Suffolk, Nassau, Rockland and Westchester counties.

"Increasingly, domestic partner benefits are becoming the norm," Tarver said. "Fortune 500 companies have been far ahead of government in this area. It's just a matter of government catching up"...

Irene Winne, a town resident, believes most are OK with the town board's decision.

"I think it's the fair thing to do," Winne said. "I'm comfortable with it and I would think many of the other residents are."


"Rhinebeck OKs Health Benefits for Town Employees' Domestic Partners"
By Patricia Doxsey [Daily Freeman 5/27/2006]

RHINEBECK - The legal bonds of marriage no longer will be required for town employees seeking health coverage for their significant others.

In a bold move that puts Rhinebeck in a class of its own in the region, the Town Board this week voted to extend town health insurance coverage to people who are in "committed relationships" with municipal employees.

The unanimous decision makes Rhinebeck the first town in Dutchess County to extend health benefits to domestic partners and places it among only a handful of municipalities in the state to offer such benefits.

"This is an issue of basic fairness," said town Supervisor Stephen Block. "People who are gay can't get married (in New York). So clearly it's discriminatory if you have a gay couple - who can't get married but are living in a committed relationship - to deny them health coverage."

Block said the issue of providing health benefits to domestic partners arose when town Highway Superintendent Kathy Kinsella tried to enroll her domestic partner in the town's health insurance plan only to learn the town didn't extend health coverage to employees' same-sex partners.

"It's only right that we extend these benefits," Block said. "This is about people who are in committed relationships that can be documented, but who, for whatever reason, have chosen or have not been allowed to marry."

Block said Kinsella and one other Rhinebeck employee now are eligible to receive town health coverage for their unmarried partners.

Block was unsure how much the new policy will cost the town but said money is not the issue.

"Cost was not a consideration in terms of legitimacy of the policy," the supervisor said.

He said the new policy "will probably cost us another several thousand dollars a year, just as would be the case when some single employee gets married and adds their spouse to their policy."

Tivoli Mayor Marc Molinaro, who serves as president of the Dutchess County Supervisors and Mayors Association, said no other municipality in the county offers health coverage to employees' unmarried partners.

New York City adopted legislation in 1988 extending health benefits to unmarried domestic partners, and there are a handful of towns across the state, including some in Westchester County, that have similar laws. In some cases, however, the benefits are offered to gay and lesbian partners, but not unmarried heterosexuals.

Dutchess County Legislator Joel Tyner lauded Rhinebeck officials for their action.

"I think it's great," said Tyner, D-Rhinebeck/Clinton. "I would love to have Dutchess County do that as well for its county residents."

Molinaro, a Republican member of the county Legislature and chairman of the Legislature's Budget, Finance and Personnel Committee, said the issue of county health benefits is a matter for contract negotiations.

Ulster County Legislator Brian Shapiro said the county Legislature's Personnel Committee on Thursday opened preliminary discussions about the possibility of extending health benefits to the gay and lesbian partners of county employees.

"The county is taking a serious look at this and seeing if it is something we could possibly implement," said Shapiro, D-Woodstock.


From the folks at

A Partial Summary of Domestic Partner Benefits Listings

[see more here: ; ]

Phoenix (all 5 unions)

State of California
Alameda County*
Laguna Beach
Los Angeles
Los Angeles County
Marin County
San Diego
San Francisco
San Francisco County
San Mateo County
Santa Cruz
Santa Cruz County
West Hollywood


State of Connecticut (same-sex only)

District of Columbia

Broward County
West Palm Beach*


State of Hawaii

Cook County
Oak Park


State of Iowa
Iowa City

New Orleans


Montgomery County
Takoma Park

State of Massachusetts

Ann Arbor
East Lansing
Washtenaw County
Wayne County

New Jersey

New Mexico
State of New Mexico

North Carolina
Chapel Hill

State of Oregon
Multnomah County


Rhode Island
State of Rhode Island

Travis County*

State of Vermont

Arlington County

State of Washington (same-sex only)
King County

Dane County*
Sherwood Hills*


Bureau of National Affairs (BNA)
U.S. Civil Service*
U.S. Department of Housing (HUD)*
U.S. House of Representatives
U.S. Office of Personnel Management


American Institutes for Research
Bay Area Air Quality Management District
Bay Area Rapid Transit
Berkeley Unified School District
Brooklyn Public Library
Chicago Transit Authority
Dane County Regional Planning Commission (WI)
Edmonds School District (WA)
Eugene Water & Electrical Board (OR)
The Jackson Laboratory (ME)
Jet Propulsion Lab (CA)
Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory
Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory
Los Alamos National Laboratory
Los Angeles Unified School District
Los Angleles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority
Lower Merion School District (PA)
Madison Metropolitan School District
Maine Municipal Employees Health Trust
Minneapolis Public Library
Minneapolis School District
Municipality of Metropolitan Seattle
New York State Attorney's Office
Research Triangle Park
Sacramento Para Transit
San Francisco Chamber of Commerce
San Jose School District*
Santa Cruz Metropolitan Transit District
Santa Cruz Metro Operation
Seattle City Light Co.
Seattle Public Library
Wisconsin Education Association Council

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Jerome ParkerBy:
Transport and infrastructureIn:
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Dutchess County Residents


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