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Retirement benefits on way for Gainesville same-sex couples
City will now allow workers in same-sex marriages to pass on benefits to spouse
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After the U.S. Supreme Court ruled this summer that state bans on same-sex marriage were unconstitutional, local governments in Hall County immediately began reviewing workplace, health care and benefits plans to comply with the law of the land.

“We are currently working with our attorneys and benefit providers to determine any amendments we may need to our benefits and policies,” Gainesville Human Resources Director Janeann Allison said in July.

Now, Gainesville officials are prepared to allow city workers in legally recognized same-sex marriages — not domestic partnerships or other civil ordainments — to pass on retirement benefits to their spouses when they die.

For example, a city employee can choose a reduced pension payment so that after they are deceased their spouse will continue to receive benefits.

The plan had originally been restricted to opposite-sex marriages.

The plan will also be implemented retroactively during a one-time 30-day window.

This will allow past retirees who were in same-sex marriages recognized in other states prior to the Supreme Court ruling to choose the Joint and Survivor benefit option.

The change also allows retirees in same-sex marriages to change their retiree medical insurance benefits to family coverage.

The changes add no costs to the city’s retirement plans, according to officials.

“You got to do what you have to do to stay within the law,” Mayor Danny Dunagan said.

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