On Alaska

On Friday, the Alaska Supreme Court unanimously ruled that it was unconstitutional to deny benefits to the same-sex partners of public employees. Which was great news. Alaska is one of 17 states that has amended their constitution to ban marriage for same-sex couples, so the fact that the court ruled in favor of the nine gay or lesbian couples who brought on the case is hopeful for a similar case here in Wisconsin

But yesterday, Alaska Gov. Frank Murkowski announced that he was “outraged by the state Supreme Court’s decision” and has decided to push for another amendment—this time one that would bar the court-ordered benefits for these same-sex couples.

As if it isn’t enough to constitutionally deny these couples marriage, opponents of equality want to constitutionally deny committed, productive, hard-working, tax-paying couples the health benefits their married colleagues automatically receive.

Frankly, I’m getting really tired of people like Gov. Murkowski and Sen. Fred Dyson (who is introducing the legislation) taking every ounce of respect and dignity from gay and lesbian citizens.

These couples deserve equal pay for equal work. To introduce legislation in an effort to take away this right is utterly ridiculous. I cannot understand why our opponents are so threatened by the piecemeal benefits gays and lesbians manage to secure for themselves.

Says Murkowski, “This is a clear example of how out of touch the state Supreme Court is with mainstream Alaskans who overwhelmingly believe that marriage is a union between a man and a woman.”

Excuse me? The basic benefits the Supreme Court granted these couples (life and health insurance, plus retirement and death benefits) are in no way synonymous with marriage! These are just four of over 1,000 federal rights, benefits & responsibilities provided by marriage. How else are committed gay and lesbian couples supposed to protect themselves and their children but to scrape together what they should already be entitled to?

At least Murkowski and Dyson did not cite budgetary issues in their reason for proposing to amend the already amended constitution. It’s rather refreshing that they not hide behind this unfounded excuse and come out to say what they are really fighting for. Discrimination.


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