June 16, 1999

Today the Chicago Transit Board passed a proposal to extend health coverage benefits to same sex partners of CTA employees. Effective next month, a qualified domestic partner of an individual employed by the CTA will be eligible for the same health benefits, including health care, dental insurance and vision coverage, that the CTA currently offers to spouses of CTA employees.

The City of Chicago enacted Domestic Partner provisions in 1997 and Cook County passed a similar ordinance earlier this year.

According to CTA Chairman Valerie B. Jarrett, "By establishing and maintaining a Domestic Partnership program, the CTA joins other government agencies who are taking their lead from private industry to increase the level of fairness in the work environment. Additionally, this program will help attract and retain good employees in a competitive job market."

To qualify for the program, a full-time CTA employee and their partner must sign an ?Affidavit of Domestic Partnership." The affidavit assures that the domestic partner and the CTA employee are each other's sole domestic partners and as such are responsible for the other's welfare.

Substantiating information will show that partners share a residence and have joint financial commitments. Partners must be of the same gender, not related by blood closer than would bar marriage in the State of Illinois, cannot be currently married, at least eighteen years of age, and have shared a residence for at lease twelve months.

"The CTA has a diverse workforce that reflects the communities we serve. And Gay and Lesbian ?Pride Month," as designated by Mayor Daley, is an appropriate time of the year to enact this program? said CTA President Frank Kruesi.

Mary F. Morton, Director/Community Liaison to the Advisory Council on Gay and Lesbian Issues for the City of Chicago's Commission on Human Relations, said ?I?m very pleased to see that the CTA has taken this important step in demonstrating the value of all the members of its workforce. Health benefits coverage for all employees, regardless of sexual orientation sends a positive message of inclusion and fairness."

Added Rick Garcia, Director of the Illinois Federation for Human Rights, "Extending health coverage benefits to domestic partners will help to level the playing field in an increasingly competitive job market. This program is a real benefit for the CTA."

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