I would like to weigh in against the same-sex benefits issue. Why am I against an issue that would bring "equal rights" to the gay community? No, I am not in league with Mr. Grimm (see Dec. 28, My Turn), as a lot of his arguments were unfounded and, if anything, cost "our side" credibility. Nor is it based on religious beliefs, as I believe religion is personal and one's beliefs should not be imposed on another.
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My opposition has three prongs.
First, I abhor when people, be it the employer or the employee attempt to alter the status quo after the fact. In this case the plaintiffs knew the rules when they accepted state employment.
To accept a position and then sue because the offered benefits don't fit your particular situation is flat out wrong. And where does it stop? Shouldn't we be able to claim nieces, nephews, parents, etc., living in our homes?
The next prong is the same argument gays have used all along, "We're looking for equal treatment, not special treatment."
Is this ruling inclusive of heterosexual couples that live together without being married? Or is this right specially reserved for gay couples only?
Are the qualified couples now going to be required to file their federal taxes as "married"? Or is the nonemployee partner going to have to claim the benefit as taxable income? Or do they just get to be "single" when it is to their benefit?
If their partnership dissolves somewhere down the road, are the employee's Public Employees' Retirement System and Supplemental Benefits System accounts going to be subjected to a Qualified Domestic Order? Or does the unmarried employee get to claim he or she is "single" and retain all the benefits?
How are these partnerships going to be recognized in civil proceedings? In other words, is one partner going to be liable for the debts of the other?
As the saying goes, "Be careful what you wish for. You just might get it."
Lastly, this mandate doesn't make the benefits under the health insurance plan equal for all members.
Do you know that a man's annual physical is not covered by the basic plan, but a woman's annual examination is? So female-female couples will be entitled to superior benefits over a heterosexual couple whose benefits in turn will be superior to a male-male couple's benefits. Now what?
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