The order means that merit compensation employees will join members
of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees,
who will also become eligible for these benefits on July 1. Same-sex
domestic partnership health benefits were extended to AFSCME members
as part of the four-year contract negotiated between the governor
and the union in spring of 2004 and ratified by union members in
July of 2004. AFSCME represents approximately 37,000 state
Paul Campbell, director of Central Management
Services, the state agency that oversees health care and benefits
for state employees, also sent a letter Monday to each of the
state's constitutional officers, to the leaders of the General
Assembly, to the heads of the state's retirement systems and to each
state university, offering them the option to extend these benefits
to domestic partners of same-sex employees who work for them as
well. Those choosing to offer these benefits to their employees must
notify CMS by Friday in order to opt into the program.
"This is about fairness and equality," Blagojevich said. "I want
the people who work for me to have access to good benefits and good
health care, and that's what this accomplishes."
"Last year, Governor Blagojevich signed into law landmark
legislation protecting Illinoisans from discrimination based on
sexual orientation. His action today is another big step forward in
the ongoing struggle for equality," said Sen. Carol Ronen,
D-Chicago, Senate sponsor of the amendment to the Illinois Human
"Many people have worked for this for many years. I am proud of
Governor Blagojevich for making this happen," said Rep. Larry
McKeon, D-Chicago, House sponsor of the amendment to the Illinois
Human Rights Act.
"Governor Blagojevich has been very clear about his vision to
expand access to health care to children through his sweeping All
Kids initiative, senior citizens and now domestic partners," said
Paul Campbell, director of Central Management Services.
[to top of second column]
"The governor's order continues his unmatched record of active
leadership on behalf of all Illinois families," said Michael McRaith,
director of the Illinois Division of Insurance. "I thank Governor
Blagojevich for ensuring that gay and lesbian families of state
employees have equal access to health care benefits."
"By extending health care and benefits to domestic partners of
state employees, Governor Blagojevich is ensuring equality for
lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender citizens in the state's work
force. This should not be a privilege awarded to just those in a
traditional marriage, but also people in committed long-term
relationships," said Department of Human Rights Director Rocco
It's estimated that enrollment in these programs, including union
and nonunion employees, may grow by 0.5 percent, with an estimated
$2.2 million in increased liability annually. It's also estimated
that the state will save some costs because it will be able to
provide a consistent set of benefits to all employees.
The definition of domestic partner will be the same for merit
compensation employees as in the AFSCME agreement. A domestic
partner is defined as a person of the same sex who has resided in
the employee's household and has had a financial and emotional
interdependence with the employee, consistent with that of a married
couple, for a period of not less than one year and continues to
maintain such arrangement consistent with that of a married couple.
The benefit will be administered in accordance with all applicable
state and federal laws.
"Illinois is moving forward in protecting families. I commend
Governor Blagojevich and expect the universities and other
constitutional officers to quickly do the same," said Rick Garcia,
director of public policy for Equality Illinois.
[News release from the governor's