health scare

MI Rep. Peter Lund Can’t Stand To See Taxpayer Dollars Go Toward Homos’ Health Benefits

Michigan’s Republican Rep. Peter Lund, who owns a direct mail marketing firm, is married (to a woman) and has two daughters. Because of his heterosexual privilege, Lund enjoys the ability to share his health benefits with the rest of his family. But the state’s gay employees don’t have that option, something the Michigan Civil Service Commission, in a 3-1 vote, moved to change last month. Gov. Rick Snyder didn’t like the idea, because he thought it would cost too much money the state doesn’t have. But Lund doesn’t like the idea because he thinks it violates the 2004 ballot measure that forced the state to recognize only opposite-sex unions. So he’s working to have the folks who serve on the Civil Service Commission fired. Lund cites a 2008 Michigan Supreme Court ruling that upheld the ballot measure. Now all eyes fall to Attorney General Bill Schuette, who has until Jan. 26 to issue an opinion on whether the Commission’s vote violates the Michigan constitution.

The court ruling made it unlawful to extend benefits to same-sex spouses, citing a successful 2004 ballot initiative in Michigan that defined marriage as the union of a man and a woman. The commission, following the lead of several universities and a few municipalities, scrapped contract wording mentioning same-sex couples negotiated prior to the ballot initiative and used broader wording to extend benefits to unrelated housemates, regardless of gender, plus the housemate’s dependents. Covered housemates must have lived with the state employee for at least one year and are limited to one per household.

The benefits extension — which so far applies to about 70 percent of the state workforce and is estimated to cost up to $5.7 million a year — was approved as the state grapples with an approximately $1.8 billion deficit. Through a spokeswoman, Gov. Rick Snyder expressed frustration and disappointment with the 3-1 decision. Commission Chairman Thomas “Mac” Wardrop, who cast the lone “no” vote, said although he opposed the action he believes the issue is settled and the commission will move on to other matters. He said he expects the financial impact will be lower than the $5.7 million estimate. Reversing the decision would require a two-thirds vote of both chambers of the Legislature.

Isn’t it so lovely to see Rep. Lund care so much about the constitution he’s willing to ignore that whole “equal protection” thing in the name of denying you people health care? Send your love letters to [email protected] “It is an absolute abomination to hear a state agency has the gall to make such a costly and polarizing political move while people and their government are pinching pennies just to make ends meet,” said Lund last month. “There is no room for policies that encourage irresponsible spending in our budget for anything right now, let alone this clearly political move that shifts people’s hard earned dollars into the pockets of same-sex partners.”

[Detroit News]

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  • Jim Hlavac

    Yet another reason for gay folks to push the “We pay taxes too” angle. Loudly. I’m so tired of hearing the complaint that tax dollars are going for gay folks as if we don’t pay taxes at all. When will some rational politician point this out? Even the so-called “gay rights” groups never seem to mention this all important fact: gay folks pay taxes to be excluded. We cover the costs of the government lawyers hired to draw a line in the sand against us. We even used to pay for the police to arrest us in our own bars. “No taxation without representation” is something gay groups should be pushing. But, no, I hear nothing countering this sort of mush by even our erstwhile gay rights groups. No, somehow this idea is too radical or something, too revolutionary even. Instead we plead for no laws or something — instead of counting up all the tax dollars gay folks pay and saying bluntly to this sort of politician: “What on earth are you talking about?”

  • scribe.313

    I live in Michigan… I am a public employee. I’m not too sure that the new governor’s reasons are honest. I believe that it is just cover for him to not seem not anti-gay. The last governor a dem, jennifer grandhom had worked out a deal with the union for same sex medical. The public vote came in, with george bush re-election campain of voting away the gay. granhom fought and begged people not to take away gay rights and I love her for it. State repubs made cold calls saying protect marriage. It is one of many reasons why i will never vote republican and the reason I’m going to work real hard against lund when his term is up.

  • scott ny'er

    @Jim Hlavac: Great point!!!

  • Jaroslaw

    As a public employee also, I’m thrilled that we’ve been recognized to have rights; but I have to wonder why the Civil Service Commission did this at this juncture. At a time of unprecedented budget problems not seen since the Great Depression of the 1930s I hope this doesn’t create backlash and make Gay rights go backwards instead of neutral or forwards. In the scheme of things 5 million is nothing and reading the analysis in last week’s Sunday editorials, it will probably be far less. I think the bigger question is how a Constitution can be amended to take away rights as well as be completely unjust in terms of treating people equally (another Constitutional idea) but it was and this civil service commission action does seem like a backdoor way (no pun intended) to thwart a ballot measure.

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