POSTED: Wednesday, November 11, 2009 - 8:20am
UPDATED: Friday, November 5, 2010 - 9:13am
DOWNTOWN EL PASO - Opponents of health benefits for domestic partners took the first step in throwing out the decision by filing a petition at city hall.
But could a legality prevent them from getting the item on the ballot?
With a stack of papers in his hands, Tom Brown walked into city hall ready for a challenge.
In August, city council voted 7-1 to extend health benefits to same-sex and unmarried partners of city employees.
Brown was against it.
So he collected the minimum 1,500 signatures required to put a new ordinance in front of city council, saying only legally married couples can receive health benefits.
If council members decide to vote to keep things the way they are or ignore the petition, the group has the option to petition a second time.
If that happens, it could force the council to send the question to voters.
"Do they want to go ahead and cause the city to spend more money on a referendum when they know they're going to lose? are they stubborn or are they going to be humble?"
But Mayor John Cook says the voters may not get the opportunity.
"I don't know that members of the public have the ability to force us to do that through initiative and referendum."
He says the council might not have to put it on the ballot, since a change would affect the budget that's already in place.
Brown doesn't believe the budgetary issue comes into play.
In a statement, he says "All ordinances by nature affect the budget. What ordinance doesn't? Sometimes ordinances increase budgets. In this case, it will decrease the budget."
He also tells us he is considering getting a lawyer to represent them.
The city council has 30 days to put the new ordinance on the agenda.