This is a nightmare scenario for me. I am not being histrionic, or perhaps I am being consistent with the histrionic level I’ve been maintaining on domestic partner benefits since 2014.
The US Supreme Court has let stand a Texas Supreme Court ruling that there is no established right to spousal benefits in same-sex marriages. This stems from a suit against the City of Houston which in 2013 began offering domestic partner benefits to employees. You can read more of the political machinations invoked here. (Thanking Scotus for a Christmas gift is a teaser!)
By my estimation, the decision of the Supreme Court to let that stand opens the door for endless efforts to chip away at marriage equality. What state do you know that is controlled by right-wing extremists with a clear anti-LGBTQ agenda? Hmm.
Worried? You should be. Remember in 2014 when Allegheny County Chief Executive Rich Fitzgerald eliminated domestic partner benefits within days of the ruling on marriage equality? Remember how many people tried to warn him that the playing field was nowhere near equal yet and there would be a lot of fallout for LGBTQ people? He didn’t listen. And he’s a Democrat. He didn’t listen to LGBTQ people. We knew backlash was coming.
So now, the City, the School District, and the State offer domestic partner benefits to both same sex and opposite sex employees as well as all married employees. The County only offers to married employees.
Pennsylvania could be next among those where right-wing ridiculous people effectively leverage bigotry and funding to challenge our laws. I think having domestic partner benefits in place for all families makes a stronger case about the benefits being tied to family welfare rather than marriage alone. It also sends a message to LGBTQ employees, potential employees, and citizens that our families are valued.
Limiting same-sex marriage is the objective here – benefits, adoption, tax deductions, legal rights, etc. Restricting LGBTQ people across the board is the goal.
Rather than wait for them to finish mobilizing in Pennsylvania, let’s push our municipal leaders to stand with us and stand for us.
We want Allegheny County to (re)instate domestic partner benefits for same-sex and opposite sex families among their employees in line with the City of Pittsburgh.
We want local leaders to think about with whom they consult. This isn’t just about marriage equality, it never was. It is not just about health insurance, it never was. We must demand that conversations include – no center – QTPOC, trans folks, queer identified folks, disabled queers, neuroqueer folks, poor folks, older folks, etc.
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