Thursday, February 01, 2007

$1.2 Million to Decide Whether to Write Discrimination Into the Constitution

"It is possible to read the history of this country as one long struggle to extend the liberties established in our Constitution to everyone in America." - Molly Ivins

According to the News Minus yesterday, Governor Sarah Palin wants to spend $1.2 million in state money to fund the advisory vote on whether The Lege ought to write a proposed amendment to the Constitution to stick it to gay people. If the majority of those voting agree, the proposed amendment would then be voted on in the 2008 general election.

You know, I read somewhere that she has gay friends. Well, goody for her. Nice demonstration of friendship there, Ms. Palin. Perhaps they are members of the Log Cabin Republicans, who seem to think you can work within a political party that is not above a little gay-baiting to win an election.

And, make no mistake. Despite Rep. Mike "God and Family, Only Heteros Need Apply" Kelly's reference to the cost to the state of providing the employment benefits, this has nothing to do with the money involved. That is made clear by the actual wording of the proposal:
“Shall the Legislature adopt a proposed amendment to the state Constitution to be considered by the voters at the 2008 general election that would prohibit the state, or a municipality or other subdivision of the state, from providing employment benefits to same-sex partners of public employees and to same-sex partners of public employee retirees.”
Not only do the right wingers want to prevent the state from providing the employment benefit - they want to forbid any municipality or subdivision of the state (like U of A or the City of Anchorage) who believes in treating all its workers fairly from doing so as well.

The issue, for those of you trying to preserve your sanity by ignoring most of what goes on in Juneau, originates in an Alaska Supreme Court decision that said the State couldn't deny employment benefits to same-sex couples. Equal work, equal compensation and all those peculiar concepts. Well, treating gays equally under the law, even when the words marriage or spouse aren't invoked, caused quite a stir amongst the anti-gay crowd.

Forget their bleating about how terrible it is to institute a new employment benefit or that tired and bogus red cape of 'judicial activism' ... what this proposal is about is some of the more narrow-minded of our fellow Alaskans are doing their best to send a message that gay people are second-class citizens, not equal to the heteros. Rep. Jack Coghill, (R), said exactly that1. Too bad he didn't notice that the last amendment (which defined marriage as being between a man and a woman) makes no reference to benefits.

If nothing else, this situation highlights the need for some sort of legal mechanism to recognize same sex partnerships, whether you call it a civil partnership or a civil union or, dare we say it, marriage. Property, medical decisions, inheritance of property and child custody are all dealt with within the law if you are a married heterosexual. If you are in a same sex relationship, there are few legal mechanisms to deal with that stuff.

1"I simply do not believe it is appropriate for the Judicial Branch to side-step the Legislature's constitutional right to find a remedy to the court's decision on this issue by ordering the executive branch to put a new employment benefits program in place," said House Majority Leader John Coghill. "The courts have overruled the people of Alaska, the state legislature, and the next generation by making same sex partners equal to married people with regard to the benefits of marriage." At:


Mary said...

Y'know, what really burns my britches (and I so wanted to use that phrase today) is that Palin is doing this after she made a fuss about not going against the court ruling when she got into office. Despite the fact that she made the "I've got to do this even though I don't think it's right" dig, I was starting to have just a skosh of grudging respect for her for upholding the court's decision. That's pretty much gone now.

CabinDweller said...

I think we all need to use the word britches more. And 'et' while we're at it.

The thing that befuddles me is that Palin seems like an intelligent person and doesn't necessarily come off as a knee-jerk, right-winger. Is she held hostage to the fundie base in the Mat-Su, and dare not offend???

Ishmael said...

I'll do my part and start saying "britches" more often. I'd like get people to start calling galoshes "rubbers" again, but I'll be damned if I can find galoshes anywhere.

Since the turn of the millennium I've been trying to bring back saying "ought" before the year number. This year is "ought-seven," for example. Maybe even "ought-and-seven."

But as far as Palin and this court thing goes, I'm pretty disappointed. And don't undermisestimate the extreme rightwingedness of valley folk. Have you noticed how the governor's letterhead doesn't show the yellow fringe on the state flag any more? That's a biggie for the black helicopter crowd. Check it out: