City won't offer some benefits to employees' same-sex spouses -
Published Thursday, November 21, 2013 at 12:00 am / Updated at 6:58 pm
City won't offer some benefits to employees' same-sex spouses

The City of Omaha will not offer health care and dental benefits to same-sex spouses of city employees, despite a U.S. Supreme Court ruling that extended a variety of federal benefits to married, same-sex couples.

In a press release issued Wednesday, Mayor Jean Stothert said the city's legal department has reviewed its policies following the ruling on the Defense of Marriage Act — and after a request from the city's police union.

In that review, officials “determined the city's health insurance summary plan descriptions make clear that the definition of 'spouse' does not include same-sex married spouses.”

Those spouses, however, are entitled to pension and flexible spending benefits as a result of the ruling.

Stothert said health and dental benefits could be provided only through negotiations with the city's unions.

“We have an obligation to negotiate with all seven collective bargaining units should they desire to expand health care and dental benefits to same-sex spouses,” she said.

John Wells, president of the police union, said he's disappointed by the city's decision and doesn't believe officials need to go back to the bargaining table to extend benefits to same-sex couples.

Because the city is self-insured, he said, it retains the right to set its own health plan descriptions and definitions.

Wells said the added benefits would affect a handful of his union's members and result in a “negligible” cost to the city.

“(City officials have) decided that they're not going to do the right thing by these folks, that they're going to play politics,” he said. “Most other corporations and other entities have these types of benefits in their health care plan.”

Wells said his group will push for the benefits in future contract negotiations. He said he does not expect the issue to disappear.

“I think there's been a shift in attitudes in general, and obviously the Supreme Court case was groundbreaking in a lot of different ways,” he said. “I think that's the tip of the iceberg.”

Contact the writer: Erin Golden    |   402-444-1543    |  

Erin covers the Omaha City Council and the Mayor's Office.

High school slam poets don't just recite verses, 'they leave their hearts beating on the stage'
Crack ring's leaders join others in prison as a result of Operation Purple Haze
Omahan charged in fatal shooting in Benson neighborhood
High court denies death row appeal of cult leader convicted of murder
State Department moves to delay Keystone XL pipeline decision
Haze in area comes from Kansas, Oklahoma
Man taken into custody in domestic dispute
Omaha judge reprimanded for intervening in peer attorney's DUI case
Intoxicated man with pellet gun climbs billboard's scaffold; is arrested
Police seek public's help in finding an armed man
Saturday forecast opens window for gardening; Easter egg hunts look iffy on Sunday
Database: How much did Medicare pay your doctor?
Last day of 2014 Legislature: Praise, passage of a last few bills and more on mountain lions
New public employee pay data: Douglas, Lancaster, Sarpy Counties, plus utilities
A voice of experience: Ex-gang member helps lead fight against Omaha violence
Church is pressing its case for old Temple Israel site
OPPD board holding public forum, open house May 7
The thrill of the skill: Omaha hosts statewide contest for students of the trades
A recap of what got done — and what didn't — in the 2014 legislative session
When judge asks, Nikko Jenkins says ‘I killed them’
Nancy's Almanac, April 17, 2014: Trees save money
'The war is not over,' Chambers says, but legislative session about is
PAC funded by Senate candidate Ben Sasse's great-uncle releases Shane Osborn attack ad
Teen killed at Gallagher Park was shot in head as he sat in SUV, friend who was wounded says
New UNO center strengthens ties between campus, community
< >
Breaking Brad: Stuck in a claw machine? You get no Easter candy
I know of one kid in Lincoln who will be receiving a lump of coal from the Easter Bunny, just as soon as he's extricated from that bowling alley claw machine.
Breaking Brad: Mountain lion season's over, but the bunny's fair game!
Thursday was the last day of a Nebraska Legislature session. Before leaving town, legislators passed a bill to hold a lottery to hunt the Easter Bunny.
Breaking Brad: At least my kid never got stuck inside a claw machine
We need a new rule in Lincoln. If your kid is discovered inside the claw machine at a bowling alley, you are forever barred from being nominated for "Mother of the Year."
Breaking Brad: How many MECA board members can we put in a luxury suite?
As a stunt at the Blue Man Group show, MECA board members are going to see how many people they can stuff into one luxury suite.
Kelly: Creighton's McDermotts put good faces on an Omaha tradition
A comical roast Wednesday night in Omaha brought fans of Creighton basketball laughter by the bucketful. This time it was McJokes, not McBuckets, that entertained the Bluejay crowd.
Deadline Deal thumbnail
The Jaipur in Rockbrook Village
Half Off Fine Indian Cuisine & Drinks! $15 for Dinner, or $7 for Lunch
Buy Now
< >
Omaha World-Herald Contests
Enter for a chance to win great prizes.
OWH Store: Buy photos, books and articles
Buy photos, books and articles
Travel Snaps Photo
Going on Vacation? Take the Omaha World-Herald with you and you could the next Travel Snaps winner.
Click here to donate to Goodfellows
The 2011 Goodfellows fund drive provided holiday meals to nearly 5,000 families and their children, and raised more than $500,000 to help families in crisis year round.
Want to get World-Herald stories sent directly to your home or work computer? Sign up for's News Alerts and you will receive e-mails with the day's top stories.
Can't find what you need? Click here for site map »