Tag Archives: same

UT Officials: Fear of Legislature Blocking Same-Sex Benefits

Complex state insurance plans, constitutional hurdles and political consequences have all kept the University of Tennessee from delivering health insurance and other benefits to unmarried same-sex and opposite-sex couples, reports the News Sentinel, citing a letter UT leaders sent faculty members earlier this month.
In the letter, Chancellors Jimmy Cheek and Larry Arrington acknowledged that the school’s biggest challenge is a conservative Legislature that could react with a heavy hand — particularly when it comes to funding — should the school attempt to offer benefits for same-sex couples.
“As we have expressed to you in person, the political issues are the most challenging,” the two wrote. “As leaders of a publicly funded institution, we are responsible for acting in the best interests of the entire institution. For this reason, we ultimately concluded that the University is not in a position to pursue the Faculty Senate’s resolution.”
The letter, dated Jan. 10, is the second such response requested by faculty hoping to open a dialogue about the possibility of offering insurance, bereavement and education credits to unmarried couples.
…”If that truly is what is behind the issues, I understand where that fear could come from. But I think that you’re deciding not to act based on something that hasn’t happened yet,” said Keith Kirkland, chairman of UT’s Commission for LGBT People.
“You have to allow people to react to things. This is something that needs to be done because it is the right thing to do.”
Kirkland said he is discouraged that he has not had a conversation with Cheek or even exchanged emails since becoming chairman of the commission last spring.

A Gay Marriage Litmus Test for TN Democrats?

Mark Clayton is a nightmare for the Tennessee Democratic Party in large part because of what the controversy surrounding his U.S. Senate candidacy portends for Democratic office-seekers in future elections, says a George Korda column.
With the furor around Clayton, Tennesseans are principally hearing and reading that he’s unacceptable to Democrats because he’s “anti-gay.” The fundamental reasons, once again, are said to be opposition to gay marriage, supporting Campfield’s schools legislation, and being a member of Public Advocate. There are other reasons why some Democratic leaders don’t like him, but those aren’t getting substantial airtime or ink.
(Public Advocate’s “hate group” label comes from the Southern Poverty Law Center. It would be useful for Tennesseans interested in the subject to visit the SPLC and Public Advocate websites, read them, and decide for themselves whether they agree or disagree with the “anti-gay hate group” label) (Note: A Public Letter newsletter, distributed at the state Legislature and including an article on Campfield’s bill is HERE.).
In 2006 a Tennessee ballot measure affirming marriage between a man and a woman passed with 81 percent of the vote. Clearly, Democrats either completely sat it out or voted for it. The margin is a pretty clear indication of Tennessee voters’ sentiments on this issue. They’re not alone. Homosexual marriage referendums have failed in every state in which voters have had a chance to decide the issue.
Combine that voter sentiment with the Democrats’ Tennessee unsuccessful election experience of the past 18 years and the party’s future problem is obvious: will Democratic candidates be required to affirm support of gay marriage, or opposition to Campfield’s bill, to be considered a Democrat worthy of being on the ballot? If not that, will there be other issues for which Democrats must proclaim ideological purity? Global warming? Obamacare? You name it.
If the answer among Democratic Party activists is yes, or even remotely close to yes, history and evidence suggest continuing misery for Tennessee Democrats seeking elected office. A party already reeling will find itself eating its own, the sort of thing abortion supporters often hope will happen to anti-abortion conservatives.
Smart Tennessee Democrats will do everything possible to avoid such an issue-related litmus test for office seekers and get their colleagues to quiet down. It’s not as if Clayton has a great chance to win anyway.

Haslam, Ramsey Disagree With President on Same Sex Marriage

Republican Gov. Bill Haslam says he disagrees with President Barack Obama’s new stance in support of same-sex marriage, reports Andy Sher.
“I’ve said before, that’s not my view on the issue,” Haslam said. “I think it seems like the president has changed over a period of time. It’s his right to do so, but that’s not a position I’m in favor of.”
Republican state Senate Speaker Ron Ramsey agreed, recalling a Senate floor debate on the issue in which one lawmaker argued “a circle is a circle and a square is a square and no matter what you do, you can’t make a circle a square.”
Marriage, Ramsey said, “is between one man and one woman, period. You can call it something else, but it’s not marriage. I disagree with the president on this.”