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Santorum's state considers same-sex benefits

I hope someone asks Ricky what he thinks about this. After all, the idea of same-sex benefits must have crossed his mind, since he has his own personal homo on staff in DC? You think Santorum and his boy wonder communications director, Robert Traynham II, an out, black, gay man, ever had any heart-to-heart conversations about whether he’s worthy of benefits if he has a partner? Nah, Traynham’s such a self-loather that it’s mind blowing.

Thank goodness a decision on PA state benefits isn’t in Ricky’s hands, this is Ed Rendell‘s fight.

The Pennsylvania Employees Benefit Trust Fund board voted unanimously yesterday to study the cost of extending health benefits to the same-sex and heterosexual “domestic partners” of state employees.

Determining the price tag would be the first step toward making a politically controversial move — actually providing state benefits to workers’ domestic partners. It’s a move that Democratic Gov. Ed Rendell supports but many socially and religiously conservative Republican legislators oppose.

Rendell supports the move “as a matter of fairness,” said Kate Philips, his press secretary. Philadelphia city employees had domestic partner benefits when Rendell was mayor in the 1990s, she said.

Two top House Republicans, Majority Leader Sam Smith and Appropriations Committee Chairman Brett Feese, are upset about the Benefit Trust Fund board’s action. “It is not the place of political appointees and union representatives to unilaterally create state policy,” they said. “To consider acknowledging legally unrecognized relationships … the PEBTF would be usurping the powers of the General Assembly.”

But trust fund board Chairman David Fillman said the decision on extending benefits rested with state unions and the executive branch of state government, headed by Rendell. The board represents about 84,000 workers.

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Pam Spaulding

Pam Spaulding