The vote by Bexar County commissioners was unanimous, granting benefits to non-married partners in the county.
Laura Jesse, Bexar County spokeswoman, said the new Plus One Qualifying Adult policy is modeled after what El Paso County did.
Concerned about the recent Attorney General’s ruling against legalizing domestic partnerships and offering benefits as a result, Jesse said Bexar County’s new policy is based on proof of financial interdependence.
She said they must meet at three of the criteria such as sharing a mortgage, vehicle ownership or bank accounts.
Jesse said as soon as the details are worked out with the county’s insurance provider, any of the county’s 4,000 employees can apply.
Jesse said March 1 is the target date, and she expects the plan informing employees to be formulated by the end of the week.
Precinct 3 Commissioner Kevin Wolff said he is surprised it took this long to make the move.
Wolff said he began looking at the possibilities 15 years ago in the private sector as a way of becoming more competitive and attracting new employees.
But Wolff said he remains concerned about the possible financial impact
"The truth is we don’t know,” Wolff said.
Precinct 2 Commissioner Paul Elizondo said if Wolff decides the policy does not meet his expectations and moves to repeal it, he will have to see the proof first.
Elizondo said, “I don’t like to do something and then come back next week and say I changed my mind.”
Otherwise, supporters said they welcomed the county’s move.
“The dominoes are going to keep on falling eventually until they all fall. This was another step in the process,” said Kelli Maples, co-chair of the Community Alliance for United San Antonio.
Daniel Garay, a longtime community activist, said the vote now makes Bexar County the third major county in Texas that includes same gender partners on employee benefits.
“It’s wonderful,” he said.
Compared to last year’s uproar by protestors at City Hall over its non-discrimination ordinance, Garay said, “This took a lot less time, a lot less dissent, a lot less controversy.”