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

Lettin’ in “the gays”

The ban on allowing only certain people to serve without secrecy and shame in the United States Military has ended, giving all LGB (not T?) persons another venue in which to pursue their chosen career path with a semblance of integrity.

I have always had mixed feelings about the ban. On the one hand, having worked with a number of U.S. veterans, I think military culture often has a negative impact on individuals, especially when it comes to relating to civilian life. Life in the barracks or on active duty can be far removed from the reality of most Americans’ day-to-day lives. Some of my military friends say that is how it needs to be in order to combat the enemy. I’m not so sure. I do know that the culture offers very little support for soldiers re-entering civilian life, resuming relationships and entering the workforce. It’s even worse for those with PTSD.

On the other hand, I think everyone has the right to choose their own path to empowering themselves as human beings- sometimes this is the only (or at least glaring) option for those without other resources to gain a shot at higher education or skill training. So if someone wants to serve, being able to do so without shame or fear of discovery- at least officially, can only make the military better, and camaraderie more honest. And when official shaming ends, we move closer to full acceptance and integration into society- and further away from internalized homophobia and humiliation.

All good things.

And for those who think the president hasn’t done enough: I believe he and his administration are doing as much as they can- and carefully enough that the changes they do make will stand. Across the board, from Health and Human Services to the Justice Department to the FDA, changes that reflect good science and social practice are being carefully integrated into public policy- as are the diversity of the personnel involved (which include a large number of LGBT persons). That isn’t often remembered because it’s not sexy, sensational or scintillating. But it’s totally important to our well-being as a diversity-accepting country. It’s the Obama Long Game. And I’m a fan.

They haven’t lost me, because I know this would have never happened under President McCain.