on language

How Christian Morons In El Paso Repealed Health Benefits For Gay Partners (And Retired Straight Cops)

Led by Word of Life Church’s Pastor Tom Brown, a group of conservative Christians in El Paso, Texas, thought they were pushing lawmakers to keep the partners of gay city employees from receiving health benefits on par with married heterosexual workers. Except they accidentally killed benefits for retired police officials and firefighters. Even straight ones!

The effort backfired, WSJ reports, over less-than-thought-out language. Sort of like that marriage thing in Texas. It all happened because after El Paso officials voted to include domestic partners (both gay and straight) in shared benefits — at a mere $30k out of a $34 million budget, mind you, after 19 people signed up — the anti-gay Christians “could not find a lawyer to advise it and so came up with the wording on its own,” the WSJ reports Pastor Tom Brown said.

The measure was aimed at gay workers and their partners. The wording of the proposal, however, was vague, asking El Paso residents to endorse “traditional family values” by limiting benefits to “city employees and their legal spouse and dependent children.” So when 55% of the voters approved the measure on Election Day, they eliminated coverage for some 200 people who don’t fit that description—among them elected officials, who aren’t technically city employees, and many former city workers, the city says.

Now, officials are weighing what to do. Last month, the city council decided not to use its authority to repeal what is now a city law. On Tuesday, it agreed to allow the city attorney to come up with ways to amend the ordinance, which goes into effect Jan. 1. But some members warned that they would vote against any proposal that restores benefits for retirees and not for domestic partners.

[…] Meanwhile, past and current employees are clamoring to reinstate the health benefits, and union leaders are preparing a lawsuit against the city. Counting all those city workers who would lose benefits when they retire, the number of affected people could grow to at least 10,000 over several years, said Ron Martin, president of the local police union. “We don’t want to get into a holy war with the church,” he said. “I just wish they would have left us alone.”

But who might be looking to get into a war with the church? The gays.

The city’s gay community, which usually keeps a low profile, is out protesting. Last week, activists showed up at the Word of Life Church, whose pastor organized the ballot measure, with posters reading “Jesus wouldn’t take away health benefits” and “Love thy neighbor gay or straight.”

For Pastor Brown, who cannot believe “people [are] calling us bigots,” it’s still unclear who left the “whole truckload of manure and dropped it right on my parking spot on Sunday morning.”

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  • Franky

    Wait, it happened again somewhere else or did I just read this story somewhere else before? Either way, I still laugh at them and their horrible use of language. Oh and if they’re trying to meddle in law making affairs, shouldn’t that make their tax exempt status disappear?

  • tallskin2

    Odd how the words christian and moron go so well together

    And the words christian and bigot

  • Eminent Victorian

    Someday, when we have a president who’s not afraid to vigorously defend LGBT rights, maybe churches like Mr. Brown’s will have their tax-exempt status immediately yanked for stunts like this.

  • Daez

    Since elected officials normally have others jobs and are getting benefits through them, I don’t see it being a problem that they don’t get to suck on the government dime for their whole 2-3 hours of work each month.

    As far as for retired fire fighters and police officers, they spent their entire life sucking on the government dime. An average officer works about 1-2 hours a day and logs 8. They don’t need to suck on the dime after they retired as well.

    The only thing that is hurt here is that gays and lesbians do not get the same treatment as their heterosexual counterparts, and they knew that was the case when they took the job.

  • Daez

    @Eminent Victorian: That day will come after the churches in this country lose all of their political power which they maintain through sheer numbers. In short, that day will NEVER happen.

    The difference between a social group and a church is that the church people actually vote!

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