Clash Over Benefits for Same-Sex Couples

OPOA and City Correspondence

The City of Omaha and the police union are at odds over health and dental benefits as they pertain to legally married same-sex spouses.

The issue began to evolve with the Supreme Court’s ruling that struck down a portion of the Defense of Marriage Act, That was followed by resulting determinations made by the Internal Revenue Service.

In the wake of those decisions, the city indicated that it would allow same-sex, legally married couples to qualify for pension benefits, flexible spending benefits and several other items but would not include health and dental benefits.

John Wells, president of the Omaha Police Officers’ Association, wrote to the city on behalf of the membership stating, “I find it troubling that the City’s position is to grant some benefits and deny others.” The letter states that while the city considers the matter closed, the Officers’ Association does not.

The city issued a news release Wednesday quoting Mayor Jean Stothert as saying, “We believe that the City has complied fully with the decisions of the Supreme Court.”

In a response to the Officers’ Association, the city stated that the Law Department, “has reviewed whether same-sex married couples would receive health care and dental benefits under City plans. The Law Department has determined the City’s health insurance summary plan descriptions make clear that the definition of “spouse” does not include same-sex married spouses.

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