I’ve obtained a copy of the email the County apparently sent to 11 employees accessing domestic partner benefits on Tuesday June 24. I’ve noticed a few concerning issues
- The email uses this language “effective immediately” with no reference to July 31 or a cutoff date. Media reports added that clarification. Effective immediately is a little troubling in and of itself, but failing to provide a clear time frame is also worrisome and possibly a violation of union contracts. I really hope the employees are contacting their stewards and getting them into the dialogue. How can you just change a policy effective immediately without a compelling reason? And where did the July 31 come in to play?
- The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania did not decide to lift its ban on same-sex marriage. A federal court ruled that the ban was invalid and the Commonwealth has opted not to appeal that decision. I think that’s a critical distinction especially given that the Commonwealth has not extended non-discrimination protections to the LGBTQ community. This email suggests Pennsylvania has evolved in a way that is misleading. Both of our statewide rights come from court rulings, not any action by the actual General Assembly or the Governor.
My other issue is Allegheny County sort of posturing as if they’ve gone to great lengths to support LGBTQ employees. Come on – April 2012 is a drop in the bucket compared to the City of Pittsburgh and Philadelphia among other employers. The County is definitely the newcomer to the equality banquet and as the first to announce plans to discontinue domestic partner benefits, it is certainly a questionable commitment or investment.
Ironically, the County has an LGBTQ liaison in the Department of Human Services so Mr. Fitzgerald has a lot of good information at his fingertips about the experiences of actual LGBTQ people, especially poor LGBTQ people, in the County even with domestic partner benefits and Countywide non-discrimination protections.
Still, we don’t know why they are doing this. The idea that 11 couples receiving benefits could somehow injure opposite sex couples is ridiculous. This is starting to feel like a defensive crouch by the County rather than a cohesive policy change. After all, no other municipal government in the entire nation is in this unique position of having marriage equality without non-discrimination protections. So there’s no precedent, no best practices, and probably not a lot directives from national equality groups.
I’m truly puzzled as to what the County is thinking.
We can use your name on the petition to ask for all municipal employers to maintain the status quo until statewide non-discrimination is in place.
What do you think of the email?