Fulton chair forms DP study committee
Laura Brown, Southern Voice
Fulton County Commission Chair Mike Kenn is forming a committee to study offering domestic partner benefits to county employees, Josh Kenyon, Kenn's chief of staff, said Tuesday.
Kenn, a Republican, was endorsed by both the Log Cabin Republicans of Georgia, the gay GOP group, and the non-partisan Georgia Equality Project political action committee when he ran for the post in 1998.
"The deciding factor [in the GEP-PAC endorsement] was clearly that Mike Kenn wanted to be pro-active about making domestic partner benefits part of his legislative agenda," GEP Executive Director Harry Knox said at the time.
Appointment of the committee is intended to be the initial step toward making good on the promise, Kenyon said.
"He is sticking by his campaign commitment to look into doing this, and the committee is basically who he is relying on to decide whether and how to go forward," said Kenyon.
Kenn "wants to put this in the hands of committee to make a recommendation because he wants it to be something driven by the community rather than something he just takes a position on," Kenyon said.
According to Kenyon, membership in the committee should be finalized by the end of next week. It will include the county attorney and finance director, or their representatives, as well as county employees and community members, Kenyon said.
Kenyon said already confirmed members include Mary Louise Upshaw, who formerly headed Fulton County's Ryan White program, which provides funding for caring for people with AIDS, and Mansell McCord, who serves on the board of directors for Georgia Log Cabin Republicans and the Atlanta Executive Network, the group for gay and supportive business people.
Kenn wants the committee to act quickly on the benefits, Kenyon said.
"Instead of committees that just meet and meet and meet, he wants as close to March 1 as possible an initial report and recommendation as to whether Fulton County should adopt domestic partner benefits and if so, in what form," he said. Kenn would then want a final report by April 1.
Kenyon said Kenn hopes to keep the committee to 10 to 12 members "so it functions well," and anyone interested in serving should contact him.
"We are trying to get people we know are familiar with the issues, and attorneys are good since the Atlanta domestic partner benefits resulted in a long legal battle," he said.
"If we can get this report back, it is not out of the question that we could have something in place in the first half of next year," Kenyon said.
Kenn would present the committee's report to the entire Fulton County Commission, which would have to vote to approve the benefits, Kenyon said.