Councilman: Same-sex life partner benefits bill has nothing to do with mayoral bid

Councilman Jim Kenney asks a question during Tuesday's session. He was concerned about tax burdens, a concerned echoed by taxpayers on Wednesday. (David Maialetti/Staff)

City Councilman Jim Kenney says he wants to help make Philadelphia an attractive place for all to live regardless of marital status, gender identity, or sexual orientation.

He plans to introduce a bill Thursday that will offer a tax credit to businesses that provide benefits to life partners of employees. The bill also extends various city benefits to life partners of city employees including pension retirement and survivor benefits, child notification, hospital visitation and health-related decision making rights and more.
Kenney, who said he has supported the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community for decades, waved off critics by noting the bill has nothing to do with a potential 2015 mayoral bid.
“I’ve been supporting LGBT rights for over 20 years in here. And as a straight, white, Catholic, Irish male that’s a harder lift than it is for anybody else. It’s the right thing to do,” Kenney said. “This is not special rights its equal rights. People who are domestic partners who share the same house together, people who are committed partners, they’re denied many of the rights folks get as a result of being married and my goal is to make Philadelphia such an attractive place for all types of people to come and live.”
The bill does not require businesses to provide benefits to life partners, but incentivizes them to do so, Kenney said.
“It’s good business to create a good working environment for your employees, regardless of their status,” he said.
Kenney said he did not know how much the tax credit would cost the city or how many employees and businesses would benefit from his bill. Kenney expects that a hearing on the bill would be scheduled for sometime in January where the Nutter administration would provide testimony on the measure.