Friday, May 16, 2014

Another Quote for Day: "Walls of Discrimination Come Tumbling Down" as University of Arkansas System Allows Benefits to Same-Sex Spouses

And yet another quote for the day, from Max Brantley at Arkansas Times

And the walls of discrimination come tumbling down. The University of Arkansas System is now allowing employees who are married to spouses of the same sex to add them to university benefit plans. Until Judge Chris Piazza's ruling, Arkansas law prohibited conferring the benefits of marriage, much less marriage itself, on same-sex couples (emphasis in original).

The Times article provides the text of a memo sent to employees of the University of Arkansas Medical School yesterday, which states,

Those who are married to spouses of the same sex may now add them to the University’s benefit plans. 
New spouses may be added within one month of the marriage date.  
Same sex couples married in other states prior to May 9 (date of Judge Piazza’s ruling) may also add their spouses. The deadline to do so is June 9.  
Coverage takes effect the first of the following month. 

This announcement comes, needless to say, as very good news for any of us same-sex couples who have just married in Arkansas (or who had married elsewhere prior to the opening of marriage to same-sex couples in Arkansas), who happen to be working for the state university system. As Max Brantley notes, for years now, faculty at some of the state's universities have been persistently asking that the state system provide benefits for same-sex partners — to no avail.

Steve and I know some very good people who have left Arkansas and our state university system because they could not obtain healthcare coverage for their same-sex partner.

As I wrote yesterday, what's happening in Arkansas right now is about more than extending the right of civil marriage to same-sex couples. It's about real people with real lives. It's about all those rights others have so long taken for granted, which are attached to that piece of paper some of us have just now been able to obtain: hospital visitation rights when a spouse is sick, rights to tax advantages afforded to married couples, rights to take advantage of spousal benefits in healthcare coverage, etc.

It's about being included in society as fully human members of a society with the same rights and privileges of everyone else.

The tired (and baldly mendacious) claim of the religious right, including my own Catholic bishop in Arkansas, to love gay folks while those making this claim have never opened their mouths about the denial of basic rights to us and our families and while they want to take those rights away from us by barring us from civil marriage, needs to be retired. As Peter Montgomery says yesterday to the brothers Benham, who claim that they love, love, love gay folks as they bash said gay folks over the head, "You cannot say you love gay people while denigrating their efforts to be treated fairly under the law as evil and 'demonic.' Well, you can say it, but it won’t be very convincing."

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