City of Lakeland extends benefits to spouses of employees in gay marriages

Lakeland commissioners have approved a measure that will extend health care benefits to the spouses of employees in same-sex marriages.
 
The vote came after a heated debate Monday morning.
 
In the end, commissioners voted 5-2 in favor of the measure, which applies to couples who are married in a state that recognizes gay marriage.
 
There were strong words from people on both sides of the issue.
 
“I am not asking for anything different than any other married person working for this organization,” said City of Lakeland employee Allison Jones.
 
Lakeland resident Mike Zarrow argued against the change.
 
“I believe that we are trying to set a precedence here. Again, they can say ‘Oh, we have six cities’ and then being to pressure another city,” he said.
 
Lakeland is the sixth city in Florida to offer same-sex benefits. Its program starts Jan. 1.
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