Efforts by religious-righters — like the extremists over at
Focus on the Family-Texas Free Market Foundation Liberty Institute Texas Values — to bully the Pflugerville school district just outside Austin are revealing. They want the district to drop its new policy giving domestic partners of employees access to health insurance benefits (with premiums paid by those employees, not by taxpayers). Thursday night the Pflugerville school board rejected that bullying, voting 5-1 to keep the policy.
The Texas attorney general is considering a request for a formal opinion on whether the district’s policy violates the Texas Constitution. But what’s really behind the crusade to overturn the policy?
Some on the right who opposed the board’s vote on Thursday often say they support “local control.” But that’s not true, especially when a locally elected school board makes a decision they don’t like. No, what they really support is the authority to control the private lives and decisions of others. If that means overriding the decisions of local officials, that’s what they’ll do.
Religious-righters have also insisted that they don’t hate gay people. Really? Then why are they trying to keep the domestic partners of gay employees from having access to something as basic and important as health insurance — health insurance that taxpayers wouldn’t even pay for? Their actions certainly seem spiteful and mean-spirited, if not downright hateful.
Those critics also claim they’re only trying to uphold the sanctity of marriage. But how does providing access to health insurance for domestic partners who are already barred from marrying their same-sex partners undermine the sanctity of anyone’s marriage? It doesn’t. But barring access to such benefits is another way to marginalize and stigmatize gay and lesbian couples.
So on one side here are employees who want to provide the persons they love with the basic security of health insurance and district officials who want to treat their employees with dignity. On the other side are extremists who are determined to punish those employees and their partners simply for loving each other. It’s really not more complicated than that.