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Kentucky bill to ban gay partner health benefits advances

The Bluegrass State already has a state constitutional amendment banning gays and lesbians from marrying. It’s not enough for the agents of intolerance out there who are so desperate to protect the sanctity of their unions from the advancing homosexualist mob, they feel compelled to take action against any meager advances in civil rights.

The fact is that they want gay folks to have no rights at all, even partner health benefits at state universities and colleges (even if the partner pays 100% of the premium!). A measure to ban the benefit has passed in committee in the Kentucky Senate and moves to a floor vote. A similar bill is in the House.

This Senate bill (SB 152) was launched as a response to the University of Louisville’s decision to offer partner health benefits, which would have made it the first public instution in the state to do so. Several other campuses, including the University of Kentucky and Northern Kentucky University were also considering extending benefits. The right wing decided it was time to play hate-filled hardball.  (365gay):

Prior to the committee vote University of Louisville President James Ramsey pleaded with senators to reject the legislation saying schools in the state are finding it hard to compete for the best faculty and researchers.

We do believe in diversity, and we are competing against schools that do offer that benefit,” Ramsey said.

But Dave Edmunds, with the conservative Family Foundation, testified in favor of the legislation saying the bill was necessary to plug a way around the state’s constitution which bans same-sex marriage.

Sen. Vernie McGaha (R), one of the bill’s sponsors, mirrored that argument saying that giving benefits to same-sex couples would be tantamount to approving gay marriage.

Of course those of us who have been paying attention to these right wing bigots knew this was coming. It’s not about marriage, it’s about destroying our families, and ensuring that they curtail any effort to extend civil rights to LGBT citizens, all while quoting scripture and citing concerns about family and the children. What does health insurance for a gay couple have to do with the marriage or children of these hateful people? Nothing.

No one is attempting to take their health benefits away or pressuring legislators to allow us to vote  on their marriages or civil rights.

Tom at FunctionalAmbivalent observes how the priorities of this legislature are completely screwed up, given the state of education in Kentucky. It’s mind-blowing…read after the flip.

During the debate over bills designed to improve Kentucky’s lagging math and science scores, it came up that the higher educational institutions in the state of Kentucky graduated only one qualified physics teacher last year.  One.  The odds of any state moving from the shrinking and destructive coal and tobacco industries to an economy based in the modern, thinking world with one high school physics teacher are pretty low, but there we are.

You might imagine Kentucky would be in a panic about that.  It’s true, legislators did make concerned noises about Kentucky’s horrifying standing in math and science.  But after bemoaning the state of the state, the appalling Kentucky legislature turned around and voted to strip faculty and staff at the state’s universities of domestic partner benefits

…The decision will cause some professors to leave — which is just fine with the fundamentalist conservatives — and cause others to never consider Kentucky as an employment option.  It reinforces Kentucky’s image as an ignorant backwater and will do nothing — absolutely nothing — about solving the real problems that confront the state.

But as we’ve seen in Michigan, the same thing is occurring — except that Michigan’s amendment is being used to take away partner benefits that had already been extended to gay couples.

Watch the talent pool walk out the door, Kentucky. Michigan, Ohio, Virginia and Wisconsin are in the same boat and those states are also starting to understand the ramifications of the decision to let voters determine civil rights of gay residents at the ballot box.

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Pam Spaulding

Pam Spaulding