AZ Governor Jan Brewer To Supreme Court: Overturn Same-Sex Benefits

Governor while meeting with United States Pres...

Arizona Governor Jan Brewer is asking the Supreme Court to overturn same-sex partner benefits for Arizona state employees. The Arizona Daily Sun reports:

Legal papers filed by Attorney General Tom Horne contend that a three-judge panel of the appellate court got it wrong when it concluded earlier this month that it is illegal for the state to provide health care and other benefits to the partners of married workers while refusing to do the same for same-sex couples.

He said the state is allowed to make such distinctions.

In the opinion of several lawmakers in Arizona (who disagree with the move), this appeal is purely “to make a point” against immorality- oh, and to save the state some money. The Daily Sun again:

Hanging in the balance is whether gay workers will lose benefits they have had since 2008. That is when then-Gov. Janet Napolitano got her Department of Administration to rewrite the state’s personnel rules to expand the definition of who is a “dependent” for purposes of state employment.

Under those rules, that included someone living with the employee for at least a year and expected to continue living with that person. The rules, which did not specify the gender of the partner, also required a showing of financial interdependence and an affidavit by the worker affirming there is a domestic partnership.

But in 2009, after Napolitano resigned to take a post in the Obama administration, the Republican-controlled Legislature approved — and Brewer signed — a state law narrowing the definition and specifically excluding unmarried couples.

… According to the Department of Administration, there are 226 employees of the state, the University of Arizona and Arizona State University who are receiving same-sex domestic partner benefits. He said the annual cost is slightly more than $5 million a year.

Does this sound familiar? Prop 8, anyone? The question is whether the balance of social opinion and acceptance will have an affect on this decision. Fascinating also that this request comes just as the general elections ramping up…

Full story here

No Talking Points: Gay Skeletons In The Conservative Closet

Arizona Sheriff Paul Babeu, a rising Republican star, publicly admitted he was gay on Saturday, in order to combat accusations from a former boyfriend. He joins a long line of conservatives who came out of the closet only after scandal forced them to do so.

Bullied Youth Proposes LGBT Youth Advisor To President Obama

Photo courtesy of Brody Levesque

An inspiring story for going back to school….
You may remember me writing about Caleb Laieski, a 16 year old bullied youth from Arizona. Caleb was revently invited to the White House to share his experience as a bullied teen. Laieski was one of a few youth chosen to meet with President Obama for a photo opportunity. When they met, he proposed to President Obama that the administration appoint an LGBT youth advisor to the President. The advisor would serve as a liaison between the Obama Administration and our nation’s LGBT youth population to specifically address anti-LGBT bullying and other major issues that LGBT youth face and seek appropriate and immediate solutions. 
Laieski refused to accept bullying as a rite of passage for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) teens. Raising funds and creating awareness, he took his passion to Washington, DC where he used his personal experience to lobby Washington lawmakers on the Student Non-Discrimination Act. After meeting with almost 200 different legislators and various administrative offices in just 22 days, Laieski worked on Capitol Hill to promote a safe schools bill; The Student Non-Discrimination Act (H.R. 998 – S. 999).
With his personal experience on bullying, he was invited to speak with the Health and Human Services Secretary, Kathleen Sebelius, to discuss the effect that bullying has on today’s lesbian and gay youth and the dire situation bullying creates for at-risk youth. The story stuck with Secretary Sebelius – a few days later, Laieski was included in the Secretary’s speech at the first-ever Federal LGBT Youth Summit that was held by the Department of Education.

Bullying has taken many at-risk LGBT youth and a recent study shows, that LGBT youth who come from “highly rejecting” families are more than 8 times as likely to have attempted suicide than LGBT peers who reported no or low levels of family rejection. In a tragic event that struck too close to home, Laieski lost a close friend his age to suicide last year. This friend had endured similar bullying- and Caleb has had several other close friends attempt suicide due to the same systematic and sustained harassment in public schools.

Reluctant to create more pain from his experience, Laieski has begun channeling his inner pain in a positive way by becoming a strong personal advocate for bullied LGBT Youth- an inspiring story, especially as students head back to school.

We’ll keep you informed about the LGBT Youth Advisor to The President….

More about Caleb here.