Thursday, May 08, 2008

Will Healthcare Inequality Strike Twice?

By: P.S. Johnson

Martin Cothran with the "Family" Foundation of Kentucky was quick to jump on this news today (below is an edited version of the email Kentucky Equality Federation on Wednesday).

Today, the Michigan Supreme Court ruled that same-sex partners could not get health benefits in government or public universities because of state’s 2004 constitutional amendment prohibiting gay marriage.

This decision is important to the Commonwealth of Kentucky’s LGBT population because conservative groups and lawmakers in Kentucky have been closely monitoring the Michigan Supreme Court case.

The Michigan Supreme Court’s 5-2 decision affirms a Michigan Court of Appeals ruling. Up to 20 public universities, community colleges, school districts and city governments in Michigan have benefits policies covering at least 375 gay couples. Some of the plans began as far back as the early 1990s.

After the appeals court ruled in February 2007, universities and local governments rewrote their policies to try to comply with the gay marriage ban (similar to what the University of Kentucky and the University of Louisville did after the Kentucky Attorney General issued a legal opinion on this issue in 2007).

Former Kentucky Attorney General Greg Stumbo referenced the Michigan court case, in addition to the Michigan Attorney’s General opinion in his 2007 legal opinion.

Michigan’s anti-gay law, which passed 59 percent to 41 percent, says the union between a man and woman is the only agreement recognized as a marriage "or similar union for any purpose."

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Cothran apparently forgets that both Michigan and Kentucky are sovereign states within this Union. The conclusions the Michigan Supreme Court reaches have no jurisdiction here in Kentucky, and no one has any idea what the Kentucky Supreme Court would decide should the decision by Northern Kentucky University, University of Kentucky, and the University of Louisville to offer domestic partner benefits ever be challenged and heard all the way to the Kentucky Supreme Court.

I think Rep. David Watkins (D-Henderson) did a great job of putting the "Family" Foundation of Kentucky in their place in a House Health and Welfare Committee meeting to bar Kentucky's universities from offering domestic partner benefits.

Why is a "Family" foundation so opposed to people having healthcare? Oh, wait, it is just homosexuals they want to exempt.


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