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Posts for July, 2014

Croatia passes partnership law

Timothy Kincaid

July 15th, 2014

Croatian coast
Things have been a bit of a roller coaster for the gay citizens of Croatia, the nation comprising much of the coastline across the Adriatic Sea from Italy.

Last July Croatia joined the European Union, after passing a non-discrimination law. Almost immediately, a government commission proposed a referendum to ban marriage equality. And in December 2013, the electorate declared their support for discrimination by a two-thirds vote (though with a very low voter turnout).

But later that month the government proposed a ‘life partnership’ registry, and now that legislation has passed. (Ansamed)

La Croazia si è unita oggi ai Paesi che riconoscono le unioni civili tra le coppie dello stesso sesso, garantendo alle coppie gay e lesbiche tutti i diritti delle coppie sposate, con l’eccezione dell’adozione dei figli, e definendo queste unioni come una forma di vita famigliare.

Il Parlamento di Zagabria ha approvato oggi con 89 voti a favore, giunti dai banchi dei partiti di centro-sinistra e liberali che formano la coalizione di governo la Legge sulle unioni civili tra le coppie omosessuali, modellata in maggior parte su quella tedesca. Contro hanno votato 16 deputati di destra e centro-destra, che non si oppongono alla necessità di regolare le coppie omosessuali, ma considerano questa legge troppo liberale.

Google Translate:

Croatia has today joined the countries that recognize civil unions between same-sex couples, granting gay and lesbian couples all the rights of married couples, with the exception of the adoption of children, and defining these unions as a form of family life.

The Parliament in Zagreb today approved with 89 votes in favor, came from the banks of the parties of the center-left and liberals who form the ruling coalition the Law on civil unions between same-sex couples, modeled in most of the German. 16 deputies voted against right-wing and center-right, which is not opposed to the need to regulate same-sex couples, but consider this law too liberal.

One of the complications which the community had faced was a Constitutional requirement that the State ‘protect the family’. Lawmakers got around that problem by defining life partnerships to be a form of family.

Correction to Greek ‘straights only’ domestic partners proposed

Timothy Kincaid

November 26th, 2013

Earlier this month we reported that Greece had been found guilty of discrimination for their domestic partnership registry which explicitly excludes same-sex couples. Now changes have been proposed. (Greek Reporter)

Dimokratiki Aristera (DIMAR), submitted an amendment to Parliament, which brings changes in Law 3719/2008 regarding the cohabitation agreement aimed to stop the discrimination against couples of the same-sex.

The amendment was submitted in the draft law of the Ministry of Justice “Ratification of the Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment of the General Assembly of the United Nations.”

DIMAR holds about 5% of the votes in Parliament.

Wyoming domestic partnership bill fails in the House

Timothy Kincaid

January 30th, 2013

Today the Wyoming House of Representatives failed to pass a domestic partnership bill by a vote of 24 to 34. However, this bill came far closer to passage than many non-Wyomans had expected and gives hope that in the next session such a bill might prevail.

Math for Wyoming House domestic partnerships

Timothy Kincaid

January 28th, 2013

The Wyoming House of Representatives has 60 members. Of that number, nine just voted in committee, seven in favor and two opposed.

That leaves 51 members which have not voted. However, four of them (two Republicans and two Democrats) are sponsors of the bill and can be counted as yes votes. It is also probably likely that the five Democrats who did not sponsor the bill will also vote favorably.

Which means that our starting place is probably 16 yes votes. So, in order for this bill to pass the House, we need 15 Republicans to support it, out of 42 who have not yet stated their position. In other words, we need 36% of Republicans to support the bill.

We cannot extrapolate the committee vote, but we can gain hope from it. In committee, 75% of Republicans voted yes.

Wyoming committee approves domestic partnership bill

Timothy Kincaid

January 28th, 2013

Two bills came before the Wyoming House Corporations, Elections and Political Subdivisions Committee today, one to enact marriage equality and the other to allow for a domestic partnership registry that appears to be ‘all but the name’.

The marriage bill failed to pass by a 5-4 vote, but the domestic partnership bill was approved 7-2 and will move on for debate on the House floor.

The evolution of domestic partnerships

Timothy Kincaid

January 16th, 2013

Representative Cathy Connolly (D-Albany) has submitted two bills to the Wyoming legislature, one providing for marriage equality and one providing for domestic partnerships. Both bills have bipartisan support in the House, and the domestic partnership bill has bipartisan support in the Senate.

While marriage is highly preferable, either bill would be a great improvement in the lives of gay couples in the state. And even the domestic partnership bill has taken a step further than other DP bills have.

Domestic Partnerships were first proposed in San Francisco in the late 70′s. The City Counsel approved such a provision in 1982, but then-mayor Diane Feinstein vetoed the bill (San Francisco finally got domestic partnerships in 1990). In 1985, the newly chartered city of West Hollywood created the first Domestic Partner registry.

In 1999, the State of California passed the first state-wide domestic partnership bill. The benefits were limited; it provided for a public registry, hospital visitation rights, and authorized health insurance coverage for domestic partners of public employees. Over the next several years, additional benefits and obligations were added and the California Domestic Partner Rights and Responsibilities Act of 2003 provided that (nearly) all provisions that impact marriage also impact domestic partnerships (though as recently as 2011, additional tinkering was required).

Oregon (in 2007) and Nevada (in 2009) started where California ended up. Oregon’s HB2007 Section 9 starts with “Any privilege, immunity, right or benefit granted by statute, administrative or court rule, policy, common law or any other law to an individual because the individual is or was married” and runs for about 500 more words. Nevada’s SB283 Section 7 manages to squeeze the definition down to about 365 words and begins thusly:

Domestic partners have the same rights, protections and benefits, and are subject to the same responsibilities, obligations and duties under law, whether derived from statutes, administrative regulations, court rules, government policies, common law or any other provisions or sources of law, as are granted to and imposed upon spouses.

But the proposed Wyoming law takes a unique approach and, I think, one which reflects the evolution in the nation’s thinking about same-sex couples.

For purposes of Wyoming statutes, administrative rule, policy, common law or any other source of civil or criminal law, the term “spouse” shall include a party to a domestic partnership contract evidenced by a certificate issued pursuant to this chapter.

No longer are domestic partners treated just like spouses. Should this bill become law, in Wyoming domestic partners would be spouses.

Slovakia rejects partnership law

Timothy Kincaid

November 6th, 2012

From Reuters

Slovakia’s parliament rejected on Tuesday an opposition proposal to recognise homosexual partnerships in the strongly Catholic country, where coming out as gay remains relatively rare.

During two days of heated debate, conservatives accused the opposition of blasphemy, and said granting same-sex relationships equivalent legal status as heterosexual marriage was against traditional family values and a risk for society.

Only 14 of 129 deputies present voted to send the bill to a second reading, 94 were against and 20 abstained.

I think the news here is that Slovakian parliamentarians proposed and voted on considering partnership laws. It’s all movement in the right direction.

Federal domestic partnership benefits bill introduced

Timothy Kincaid

November 18th, 2011

Cong. Ros-Lehiten with Susan Shelly

About a week ago I had the opportunity to meet Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL). She was in Los Angeles for an evening and made time to speak to Log Cabin Republicans about her ongoing support for civil equality in our nation’s capital, and a friend invited me to be his guest.

At that time she told the assembled crowd that she would be co-sponsoring a bill with Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) to recognize the domestic partners of federal employees and offer benefits equivalent to those offered to spouses. Today that bill was introduced.

“I am pleased to co-sponsor this legislation because we are a nation that prides itself on treating everyone as equals and this bill assures that we bring those same ideals to the regulations that guide federal benefits for domestic partners of federal employees,” said Congresswoman Ros-Lehtinen. “We have taken steps to gain equal rights for all but much remains to be done. Passage of this legislation will be one step in the right direction. I am pleased that the Senate has also introduced a similar bill,” she said.

The companion Senate bill is co-sponsored Senators Susan Collins (R-ME) and Joe Lieberman (I-CT).

(Susan Shelly, pictured with the Congresswoman, is running for Congress as a Republican in the 30th Congressional district as a social liberal and fiscal conservative.)

Chile’s president introduced Life Partner bill

Timothy Kincaid

August 10th, 2011

Chilean President Sebastian Pinera has made good on his promise to support a civil unions bill by signing and sending to Congress a bill which would grant same sex couples the right to register a Acuerdo de Vida en Pareja (Life Partner Agreement). (AFP)

Chile’s conservative president proposed legislation Tuesday to recognize gay civil unions, granting them some of the same rights as married couples in the ultra-Catholic country.

“All forms of marriage deserve respect, dignity and the support of the state,” said President Sebastian Pinera, who signed the proposal and sent it to Congress.

“This puts opposite-sex and same-sex couples on the same footing, because in both cases it is possible to develop love, affection and respect.”

Pinera, who brought conservatives to power after 20 years of center-left rule in the country, grated on his own election campaign when he announced his intention to legalize civil unions for gay couples. He said two million people in Chile live together without marrying.

I’ll admit that I assumed that Pinera’s campaign advertising which included gay couples was just for show and unlikely to translate into legislation.

The bill may face backlash from the Catholic Church. Chile is 80% Catholic.

One third of gay employees have access to partner benefits

Timothy Kincaid

July 27th, 2011

NYTimes

In the first comprehensive count of domestic partner benefits by a federal government agency, the Bureau of Labor Statistics found that about one-third of all workers had access to health care benefits for same-sex partners.

Bureau officials added two questions about domestic partner benefits for same-sex couples to the National Compensation Survey, a sample of 17,000 businesses and local governments, as a response to growing public interest in the topic, said Philip Doyle, assistant commissioner at the agency. The results were made public on Tuesday.

This report is based on data from March 2011 and would not include recent changes made to couple recognition which were not enacted at that time: marriage in New York and civil unions in Illinois, Hawaii, Delaware, and Rhode Island.

Additionally, as companies recognize the same-sex spouse of a New York employee, many will be inspired at that time to adopt partner benefit programs for employees in states that do not have a vehicle for partner recognition. Otherwise, for example, Dunder Mifflin may find that the morale in its Scranton branch suffers.

Couple recognition, state by state, mid-2011 update

Timothy Kincaid

June 29th, 2011

The first half of this year has seen some victories and some defeats; and even some which are hard to categorize. But, there certainly has been change.

The status of the various recognition mechanisms is as follows (2011 additions are in italics):

Marriage
on the same terms as heterosexual marriage – 11.5% of US Population:

Massachusetts
Connecticut
Iowa
Vermont
New Hampshire
District of Columbia
New York

Civil Unions
– all rights except the name – 8.2% of US Population:

New Jersey
Illinois
Hawaii
Delaware
Rhode Island

Domestic Partnerships with nearly all the rights except the name – 16.3% of US Population

California
Oregon
Washington
Nevada

Limited recognition of same-sex couples – 5.8% of US Population

Colorado – Reciprocal Benefits
Wisconsin – Domestic Partnerships
Maine – Domestic Partnerships
Maryland – Domestic Partnerships

In addition, the state of Maryland (and perhaps New Mexico) will give full recognition to same-sex marriages conducted where legal.

So about 41.8% of all US residents live in a state in which some measure of recognition is given to same sex-couples. In addition, another 7.3% of the population lives in one of the dozens of cities which offer some form of recognition and protection for same-sex couples.

In Ohio, Fiscal Conservatism Means Slamming The Gays

Jim Burroway

March 2nd, 2011

The Ohio Senate just passed a bill that Republican supporters claim is essential to balancing the state’s budget. The bill, which now goes on to the House, limits collective bargaining rights for unions of state and local employees, including police and firefighters. It also includes this indispensable and essential component for balancing the state’s budget:

Sec. 3101.01 of S.B. 5: … A marriage may only be entered into by one man and one woman. Any marriage between persons of the same sex is against the strong public policy of this state. Any marriage between persons of the same sex shall have no legal force or effect in this state and, if attempted to be entered into in this state, is void ab initio and shall not be recognized by this state. The recognition or extension by the state of the specific statutory benefits of a legal marriage to non-marital relationships between persons of the same sex or different sexes is against the strong public policy of this state. Any public act, record or judicial proceeding of this state, as defined in section 9.82 of the Revised Code, that extends the specific statutory benefits of legal marriage to non-marital relationships between persons of the same sex or different sexes is void.

Ohio already passed one of the nation’s most draconian constitutional amendments prohibiting marriage equality in 2004. This bill goes further by stripping LGBT workers (mostly of state universities and a handful of municipalities) of their domestic partnership benefits. It’s a good thing the Tea Party only cares about fiscal matters.

Couple recognition, state by state

Timothy Kincaid

December 1st, 2010

Upon the governor’s signature, Illinois will become the second state that is currently offering civil unions to same-sex couples. The status of the various recognition mechanisms is as follows:

Marriage
on the same terms as heterosexual marriage – 5.1% of US Population:

Massachusetts
Connecticut
Iowa
Vermont
New Hampshire
District of Columbia

Civil Unions
– a rights except the name – 7.1% of US Population:

New Jersey
Illinois

Domestic Partnerships will all the rights except the name – 16.3% of US Population

California
Oregon
Washington
Nevada

Limited recognition of same-sex couples – 6.2% of US Population

Hawaii – Reciprocal Benefits
Colorado – Reciprocal Benefits
Wisconsin – Domestic Partnerships
Maine – Domestic Partnerships
Maryland – Domestic Partnerships

In addition, the states of Maryland and New York (6.4% of US Population) will give full recognition to same-sex marriages conducted where legal. Rhode Island may possibly do so also (it’s a bit uncertain) and offers unregistered Domestic Partnerships with a scant handful of rights.

Also, there are dozens of cities offer some form of recognition and protection for same-sex couples.

Church of Finland votes to welcome DPs after Finns leave in protest of anti-gay rhetoric

Timothy Kincaid

November 12th, 2010

The Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland is the state church of that nation and enjoys strong emotional connection to the people. But while about 80% of Finns are members of the church, the country is predominantly secular and church membership is mostly ritualistic rather than a reflection of attendance or devotion. Christmas service is popular and well attended; a Sunday in July, not so much.

So in some ways the ELCF has to walk a careful path, more spiritual adviser to the nation than spiritual voice of the people. And the church’s relationship with the people can be strained when the values of the population differ from long-held religious assumptions.

One area of difficulty is over issues of homosexuality. While Finnish society is generally accepting of gay people, some within the church lag behind. Unlike their sister Church of Sweden, which has celebrate same-sex weddings for the past year, ELCF has taken the position of nominally supporting gay persons but holding that same-sex acts were sinful.

This discrepancy has just come into focus. For a long time the church’s teaching has had a low profile. As is the case with many national churches, the ELCF seeks to allow for a wide diversity of belief. Many bishops and others within the church hierarchy were supportive of gay people and while there was a conflict, the ELCF was not seen as institutionally anti-gay.

That all changed in October. On Tuesday, the 12th, a televised panel discussion addressed the legalization of same-sex marriage (Finland has recognized Domestic Partnerships since 2002 and is discussing whether to convert to full marriage equality) among other gay-related issues. Among the panelists were a religious politician, Christian Democratic Party chairwoman Päivä Räsänen, and the conservative Bishop of Tampere, Matti Repo. Räsänen and Repo stated their opposition to marriage equality by appealing to the authority and the positions of the church.

The response was immediate.

The church allows for on-line resignation of membership, and the cancellations began while the program was still airing. By Friday 7,400 had rejected the church and the number grew to 18,000 by that Sunday. Over the next two weeks more and more Finns expressed their discontent with the church’s position on gay people and as many as 41,000 Finns resigned in protest, a huge number in a country with a population of about 5.4 million.

This caused a national discussion and shook up the church. But rather than take a position of moral indignation, the head of the ELCF, Archbishop Kari Mäkinen welcomed the shake-up. He found the resignations to be a reasonable response to the church’s positions and called on his church to make bold change. (hs.fi)

”I expect the delegates of the Synod to make an unambiguous decision that will support and encourage homosexual people and same-sex couples who have registered their civil union”, said Mäkinen.

The Archbishop warned the delegates not to focus only on policies or conceptual nuances. Such behaviour would only give a message that the church is remaining silent.

Lay members also responded. Those seeking to represent their parish to the national body were overwhelmingly in agreement (ice news)

A candidate test was carried out this week on the Church homepage in order to vet applicants for the upcoming elections. The survey, which enables voters to choose a suitable runner for their parish, jammed after opening on Monday due to unexpected demand.

In the online examination, 72 percent of respondents said they were in support of the Church holding prayer vigils for same sex couples. A further 48 percent said they were also in favour of blessing gay couples and gay marriage.

And today the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland announced a change in its response to gay parishioners. By an overwhelming vote of the ministers and bishops, the church welcomed and offered recognition to same-sex couples. (AFP)

After years of debate, Finland’s state church took a step towards accepting gay relationships with an announcement Friday it would create a “prayer moment” for registered partnerships.

“The proposal offers a positive opportunity to minister to church members who are sexual minorities,” the General Synod, the Evangelical Lutheran Church’s highest administrative body, said in a statement.

This prayer (which will be carefully drafted) is not the same as a blessing of the union, per se, nor will it be a sacrament of the church. But it is the church’s sanction of same-sex relationships and a step in the direction of full inclusion.

And, in context of the national discussion over marriage equality, it is a statement that shifts the equation.

Judge Blocks Arizona’s Termination of Domestic Partner Benefits

Jim Burroway

July 24th, 2010

Among the first policy changes pushed by Arizona’s legislature as soon as Republican Janet Brewer succeeded Janet Napolitano (D) as governor was to pass House Bill 2013, which changed the definition of “dependent” to specifically exclude domestic partners and adopted children of gay individuals, effectively ending insurance coverage for the families of gay state employees. This move came despite denials from Arizona’s Prop 102 promoters that they would seek to remove domestic partner benefits if the amendment banning same-sex marriage was added to the constitution. Prop 102 was approved by Arizona voters in 2008.

This week, U.S. District Judge John Sedwick granted a temporary injunction against the state of Arizona from implementing the new law:

“Because employees involved in same-sex partnerships do not have the same right to marry as their heterosexual counterparts, Section O has the effect of completely barring lesbians and gays from receiving family benefits,” Sedwick wrote. “Consequently, the spousal limitation in Section O burdens state employees with same-sex domestic partners more than state employees with opposite-sex domestic partners.”

Sedwick dismissed the state’s argument that exempting gay employees would make the benefits program “much easier to administer” and that “scarce funds for employee benefits are better spent on employees and dependents as defined in the new statute.”

Gov. Brewer claims that the state cannot afford to provide domestic partner benefits. But the annual cost of domestic partner benefits make up only about $3 million, or less than one-half of one percent of the $625 million spent on benefits for all employees. The elimination of domestic partner benefits would affect more straight families than gay. Gay and lesbian couples are believed to comprise a small fraction of the 893 domestic partners who have signed up with the state. The injunction against the elimination of domestic partner benefits applies only to families of gay- and lesbian-led employees because, as Judge Sedwick noted, heterosexual couples have the option of marrying.

Anti-gay petition names made public

Timothy Kincaid

June 24th, 2010

Within the past few years there has been a push to publicize the names of those who sign anti-gay petitions. This does not sit well with anti-gay activists who count on anonymity to collect signatures and get propositions on ballots.

People are less likely to add their name if they think that their neighbor, the lady who bags their groceries, or the guy who mows their law will know that they did so. It is far easier to harm those around you if can do so secretly.

So when the state of Washington was ready to release the names of the signatories for Referndum 71, a petition to block domestic partnership rights, anti-gay activists sued. They claimed that they have a first amendment right to free speech and that they have the right to make this speech anonymously. The state countered that they need transparency in elections and that those who seek to legislate laws must be visible and accountable.

Much of the argument on the part of anti-gays was that the identities of those who signed the petition must be kept secret to shield them from the ookie-spookie gays who are hostile and violent. They claimed that they might lose customers if those customers learned that they wanted to deny them equality or that they might face disapproval from neighbors or others who learned of their efforts to enshrine discrimination.

It now appears, however, that the US Supreme Court did not find that argument convincing. (SeattlePI)

The Supreme Court ruled Thursday that the names of people who signed petitions in an attempt to overturn a new gay rights law in Washington must be made public, a victory for state officials who said the case was a test of open government laws.

So soon the names will be available. Use them responsibly and with restraint.

Update (Jim Burroway): If I read the decision correctly (PDF: 383KB/67 pages), it looks like the Supreme Court only ruled on whether the requirement for disclosure violates the first amendment:

But the question before the Court at this stage of the litigation is whether disclosure of referendum petitions in general violates the First Amendment. Faced with the State’s unrebutted arguments that only modest burdens attend thedisclosure of a typical petition, plaintiffs’ broad challenge to the PRA (the Washington Public Records Act) must be rejected. But upholding the PRA against a broad-based challenge does not foreclose success on plaintiffs’ narrower challenge inCount II, which is pending before the District Court.

According to the Supreme Court Opinion, “Count II of the complaint alleges that ‘[t]he Public Records Act is unconstitutional as applied to the Referendum 71 petition because there is a reasonable probability that the signatories of the Referendum 71 petition will be subjected to threats,harassment, and reprisals.’” That challenge appears to still be working its way through the lower courts.

Congratulations Kissimmee

Timothy Kincaid

March 10th, 2010

kissimmeeLast night the City Commission in Kissimmee, FL, became the latest US municipality to recognize domestic partnerships. (Watermark)

In a 4-1 vote, the Kissimmee City Commission approved health and dental benefits for domestic partners of city employees, whether they’re the same sex or opposite sex.

This adds another 60,894 people (2007 estimate) to the total 27,269,114 estimated Americans who live in a community which – though in an unfriendly state – has offered some measure of recognition to same-sex relationships.

The new rules let employees purchase the benefits for their partners.

“It will also give domestic partners the same benefits as spouses as it relates to sick leave and one of the other items is that we have a policy that [city employees] cannot supervise [their] spouse and this will apply to domestic partners as well,” says Grieb.

Employees can also take advantage of sick leave if the children of their domestic partners become ill.

The measure cannot provide full compensation equality because of federal and state law. The State of Florida will not allow the children of partners to be covered by insurance unless they are formally adopted – which the state also bans (so much for “protecting the children”). And due to the Federal Government considering coverage of non-heterosexual spouses to be taxable income, Kissimmee will not offer the $10 per paycheck spousal coverage stipend they offer married employees.

There was a protest in late February led by a local pastor, but it did not appear to be well attended. (oscnewsgazette)

kissimmee protest

Initially, [Iglesia Christiana Renuevo assistant pastor Modesto] Vega’s group was against any domestic partner benefits, as he stated in his request for a permit to hold the protest, dated Feb. 9. However, the signs protesters held Tuesday stated that the group was only against such benefits to a same-sex partner.

The dozen and a half or so protesters, who were organized by an association of 35 to 40 local pastors, said they were motivated by religious beliefs. Vega told Grieb that domestic partnership benefits could be the beginning of tolerance that could lead to Florida allowing gay marriage.

No one spoke against the proposal at the meeting, and more than 300 business owners in Kissimmee had signed a petition to back the decision.

DP Benefits for Federal Employes Advance to Senate

Jim Burroway

December 16th, 2009

The Senate’s Homeland Scurity and Governmental Affairs Committee today approved a domestic partnerships bill for federal employees by a vote of 8-1. The lone vote against the bill was Sen. Robert Bennett (R-UT). Committe Chairman Joe Lieberman (I-CT) and Susan Collins (R-ME) criticized the U.S. Office of Personel Management for failing to provide information on how to offset the cost of the estimated $63 million a year program. The committee decided to go forward, noting that the price tag for DP benefits was dwarfed by the $277 billion the government spends on the federal workforce each year. That means that DP benefits will make up about 0.02% of the federal outlays in wages and benefits.

The bill now goes to the full Senate. The House has also received a similar bill from the Oversight and Government Relations Committee last month. Nether chamber has scheduled a vote.

Federal Domestic Partnership Bill Scheduled for Markup

Jim Burroway

December 11th, 2009

With the demise of the Washington Blade, we were left with the threat of the country’s most important beat going uncovered. That’s why the rise of the DCAgenda by former Blade reports is so vital. How else would we learn important developments like this:

A Senate committee has set Wednesday as the day it will markup legislation that would provide benefits to the same-sex partners of federal employees, DC Agenda has learned.

The Senate Homeland Security & Governmental Affairs Committee will consider the bill — known as the Domestic Partnership Benefits & Obligations Act — during a business meeting starting at 10 am. Dec. 16. The markup will occur in Room 342 of the Dirksen Senate Office Building.

The House Oversight and Givernment Relations Committee approved its own version of the bill last month. That bill, with 138 co-sponsors, has not yet been scheduled for a house vote.

Lambda Legal Sues Arizona To Block Elimination of Domestic Partner Benefits.

Jim Burroway

November 17th, 2009

During last year’s battle to place a ban on same-sex marriage into Arizona’s constitution, proponents for Proposition 102 argued that their efforts had nothing to do with Domestic Partner Benefits. Nope. Not one bit. Except that the ink was barely dry on the election results when the same lawmakers who put the proposition on the ballot turned right around and moved to strip domestic partner benefits from gay and lesbian state employees.

Today, Lambda Legal has announced a lawsuit in Federal Court in Tucson on behalf of ten state employees seeking to block the elimination of DP benefits. According to a press release from Lambda Legal (no link yet):

“This is an issue of equal pay for equal work,” said Tara Borelli, staff attorney for Lambda Legal. “By stripping away these vital benefits from loyal state employees, the state isn’t just paying them less for the same work than their heterosexual colleagues — it’s pulling away a vital lifeline that all workers need. This is simply cruel and saves the state next to nothing.”

…”This discriminatory elimination of vital health benefits denies equal pay for equal work to a small, politically vulnerable group of dedicated public workers who perform valuable services and pay equal taxes. By stripping gay and lesbian state employees of health coverage for a domestic partner, the new law unfairly and unconstitutionally inflicts severe hardship upon a targeted group of Arizona families,” added Borelli.

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