Friday, July 29, 2005

400 families losing health care benefits is pro-family how?

On Wednesday the Phoenix-based Arizona Republic ran this article that shows that over 400 families will lose benefits they currently have if the "Protect Marriage" amendment passes in 2006.

An Arizona Republic analysis shows that 439, or less than 1 percent, of the roughly 142,273 state and local government employees have unmarried partners who receive health insurance or other benefits in Arizona. Most of them work in Phoenix, Tempe, Scottsdale, Tucson and in Pima County.

Although a relatively small percentage of Arizonans would lose medical insurance immediately if the measure was approved, the effects would be much broader in the future, opponents of the initiative said.

It might be a small percentage, but 439 families is 439 families. That's a lot of adults and children who will lose health care benefits. And this is supposed to be pro-family?

Of course, Len Munsil of the Center for Arizona Policy sent out a response to his supporters, once again conveniently missing a link to the article so people can check for themselves what the article actually says. He titled his response "Media Misrepresentation," but as usual, he's the one doing the misrepresenting and twisting of facts.

Opponents of PMAA continue to ignore its emphasis on preserving the definition of marriage, and this article adopted that line of argument completely.

The article adopted that line of argument completely because the definition of marriage doesn't need preserving. There already is a law on the books defining marriage in Arizona as between one man and one woman and that law has held up to legal challenge. A constitutional amendment is overkill. And let's be real, if the emphasis were really on "preserving the definition of marriage," then that's all the amendment would do, but instead there is all the other language that would take away domestic partnership rights and benefits. CAP continually glosses over this point in an effort to convince the public that this is only about marriage. It isn't. It's about taking away civil rights that already exist.

An on-line poll made it sound as if passage of PMAA would cause gay and lesbian employees themselves to lose their health benefits, which is of course ridiculously untrue, then asked people to vote on that!

Uh, Len, a link here would be nice in case, you know, we want to check for ourselves what the heck you're talking about? I don't know what "online poll" he means, but as someone who is very involved with Arizona Together, I have seen nothing in our arguments that says GLBT employees would lose their own benefits. The emphasis has always been on their families. Again I ask, how is over 400 families losing benefits pro-family?

One piece of factual information did make it into the article – the number of domestic partners who receive taxpayer- funded benefits for their same-sex relationship with a government employee is much lower than the “thousands” the other side has been talking about.

Again, a misrepresentation of what Arizona Together has been saying. This amendment would impact thousands, though not necessarily through health benefits. And the future impact is much more far-reaching than the 400 families who currently get domestic partner benefits. The Republic article quotes Steve May from Arizona Together and the Arizona Human Rights Fund:

"Thousands of families would be impacted in the future because governments would no longer be allowed to offer the benefits," said Steve May, co-chairman of the Arizona Human Rights Fund, a gay and lesbian advocacy group.

May and other opponents say the measure would prevent state, cities, towns and counties from offering domestic-partner benefits in the future. It eventually would mean that thousands of unmarried couples working for the government would have no chance of ever having the benefits, he said.

Also, notice Munsil's use of the term "taxpayer-funded benefits." This is designed, of course, to make people feel like money is being taken from their own pockets to support the "gay lifestyle." I wonder, when the children of these families lose health insurance and have to go on ACCHS, are the taxpayers not going to be funding this? Let's be clear: this amendment will not save taxpayers any money.

The last sentence in Munsil's response is my favorite:

According to the Republic, it is only 439 unmarried “partners” of state employees out of 142,000-plus state employees who would be affected by the amendment’s effort to re-establish state marriage policy.

Only 439 unmarried partners? And none of these families have children, right? Riiiiight. Personally, I think that's a lot of people who would lose benefits if the amendment were in effect TODAY, and as I already noted, this doesn't take into account the other thousands of families that will be locked out of future benefits and other rights that have nothing to do with health care benefits, like hospital visitation or the family tuition reduction that the University of Arizona recently adopted.

As much as Len Munsil and CAP would like to convince people this amendment is only about "preserving the definition of marriage," it just doesn't hold up to careful scrutiny (and by "careful" I mean "actually taking two seconds to read the text of the proposed amendment.") As the Republic rightly points out, a whole lot of families will lose if this amendment passes. That's about as anti-family as you get.


At 3:14 PM, Blogger Knitress said...

I'm also wondering if those domestic partner benefits are really taxpayer funded at all.

I'm a state employee. In my state, while my own health insurance is subsidized, if I signed up for a family plan I'd be paying the full additional cost of the benefits for my spouse and kids.

No taxpayer funding there! I wonder if the same is true in Arizona.

At 3:44 PM, Blogger Bad Methodist said...

Good point. I think it depends on which government agency you work for. I used to work for the state and got pretty good health benefits for both me and my husband and didn't pay a lot out of our own pockets, but I think it cost a lot more to add kids. I don't really remember because I quit as soon as my kids were born. And a lot depends on whether you opt for an HMO or PPO or a more traditional kind of insurance. But you make a good point, spouse and child benefits do tend to cost the employee a lot more than benefits for the employee him/herself.

At 2:22 PM, Blogger Knitress said...

Deny spouse benefits would still be a bad thing for Arizona families, of course. It's much cheaper to be insured through a big group plan than it is to have to buy insurance for an individual family.


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