Dallas lawmakers are joining the rising tide of national support for same-sex couples. A proposal currently being finalized seeks to offer domestic partnership benefits to all Dallas County employees from Jan. 1, 2013, onward.
Unmarried couples can face numerous legal challenges. While the Dallas proposal will not alleviate many of these concerns, individuals will be eligible to add their partners and children to their health insurance benefits, which can help couples and families save significant money on medical expenses.
Same-sex marriage is constitutionally prohibited in Texas, and the state does not recognize same-sex marriages performed legally in other states. However, cities, counties and states across the country are beginning to examine the viability of domestic partnerships and civil unions to protect the rights of unmarried and same-sex couples and their children.
Proposals such as the one being finalized in Dallas County address the financial concerns of people in committed relationships, but they do little to provide assistance with some legal matters that unmarried couples may face, such as hospital visitation, child custody and shared assets.
Individuals in long-term relationships may encounter many situations in which they could benefit from legal assistance. As the country’s ideas around same-sex partners continue to evolve, so too do the legal issues involved in forming a family without the protection of marriage. For same-sex couples, being able to share health insurance benefits is a major improvement, but it is only one step along the road to equal rights and protections for same-sex partners in Texas.
Source: The Dallas Voice, “Jenkins, Garcia say they’re moving ahead with DP benefits plan,” Anna Waugh, Sept. 7, 2012