Gotta keep an eye on those tricky gays and the people who want to treat them as equals.
State Sen. Dan Patrick on Friday asked the Texas Attorney General’s Office to issue an opinion on whether government entities that provide domestic partner insurance benefits are violating the state constitution.
Patrick, R-Houston, said his request was prompted by recent decisions of the Pflugerville Independent School District and Dallas County, to offer domestic partner benefits to their employees. He cited the 2005 state constitutional amendment approved by voters that defines marriage as between one man and one woman and prohibits government entities from creating or recognizing anything identical or similar to marriage.
“The question is, are they pushing the envelope to the edge or are they violating the law?” Patrick said. “I would like the Texas Attorney General to opine on that question.”
El Paso County Judge Veronica Escobar said the county currently is enrolling employees under its domestic partnership benefits policy, passed in August. She said she believes the policy is not only fair, but offers a competitive benefits package that helps to recruit new employees and retain existing ones.
“We believe in offering benefits to everyone who works for the county,” she said. “Dedicated public servants deserve these benefits.”
Escobar called it disconcerting to see Patrick question the legality of offering domestic partnership benefits at a time when local governments have taken hard hits because of state budget cuts.
“We’ve had to balance our budgets on the backs of our employees,” she said. “Is he (Patrick) now trying to tie our hands and limit our ability to adequately compensate our public servants?”
I always find it funny how when the federal government does something that affects states it’s an unconscionable attack on freedom, but when the state does something that affects cities, it’s wholly unremarkable. Maybe it’s just that whatever level of government you’re in, that’s the most important one.
I will not be surprised if Abbott’s opinion goes against the cities and school districts that have taken this step in favor of equality. Those of us who opposed the 2005 Double Secret Illegal Anti-Gay Marriage constitutional amendment warned that it was very broadly worded, in addition to being, you know, wrong. It is of course possible that all of this is an academic exercise, that the future ruling that DOMA is unconstitutional will negate these restrictions and clear the way for true equality. At least, I sure hope that’s what will happen, but who knows when that will be if it does. In the meantime, this is just another opportunity for Patrick and Abbott and their fellow travelers to do real harm to real families. I hope they’re proud of themselves.