Anthony Niedwiecki

Blue Cross and Blue Shield Opposes Amendment 2

Filed By Anthony Niedwiecki | October 08, 2008 11:00 AM | comments

Filed in: Marriage Equality, Politics
Tags: Amendment 2, Blue Cross Blue Shield, domestic partnership, Florida, Marriage Protection Amendment, Michigan

Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Florida, the state's largest health insurer, has come out harshly against Florida's Amendment 2- the dangerous and deceptive "Marriage Protection" Amendment. The vague language of the amendment has many in Florida worried- both gay and heterosexual- that domestic partnership benefits could be repealed, much like what has happened in other states with similar amendments.

BCBSGA_LOGO_4C.jpgThat led Randy Kammer, an attorney and vice president for regulatory affairs and public policy for Blue Cross/Blue Shield, to say this in the St. Petersburg Times:

It's going to have a major impact on our ability to provide benefits for domestic partners, and we're opposed to anything that gets in the way of providing benefits.

In 2004, Michigan passed a ban similar to what is being proposed in Florida. In May, Michigan's Supreme Court decided that the ban prevents local governments, schools and universities from offering partner benefits- if the benefits call attention to same-sex relationships.

That's where the dangerous language in Florida's Amendment 2 comes in to play. The amendment uses the term "substantial equivalent thereof", which is not defined and therefore could have far-reaching ramifications. Conservative groups, many of which are backing Amendment 2, are already starting challenges to municipalities' domestic partnership benefits. The Florida Family Association started laying the groundwork earlier this year to challenge same-sex partner benefits offered to Tampa city employees.

It isn't hard to see where the backers of this amendment want this to go. The proponents of the Michigan amendment claimed the same thing that Florida supporters do- that it doesn't affect domestic partnerships. Then, those very same people turned around and challenged Michigan law and stripped away the rights and benefits of thousands of couples.

The backers of this dangerous amendment will not rest until they strip away all the benefits- hospital visitations, end-of-life decision making, health insurance, and many others benefits- from committed couples in Florida. The insurance companies, like Blue Cross and Blue Shield, recognize this danger and are saying NO.

We cannot allow this Trojan horse of an amendment to pass. Make sure to visit to get involved- give money, volunteer, and spread the word!

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Ths is really great news! Even insurance companies realize the devastating effect of Amendment 2!

Even better than really great news as we all know insurance companies do their best to try to limit benefits and coverage.

Good point, Dianne. I was actually really shocked at the strong stance and language coming from an insurance comany.

Waymon, I think it shows us that the more we are out and talk to everyone about our lives the more they get it.

BTW, my daughter (28) spoke to her (other) grandma yesterday. Grandma got her absentee ballot and was thrilled that she had already voted. As they talked my daughter asked her if she voted NO on Amendment 2. Grandma said she hates to read all the amendment stuff so she always votes no on every amendment. From all the people I've spoken to I've heard many people say the same.

My daughter explained to Grandma rights and benefits that all unmarried Floridians would lose if the "protect marriage" amendment passes, including Grandma's retirement community friends, same-sex couples and my daughter and her fiance. Grandma was appalled that this amendment would take away benefits from everyone and vowed to talk to her friends and neighbors about voting No.

That gives me some hope, Dianne. I'm getting nervous as we get down to the wire on this amendment, but like you said- the more we go out and talk about our livesm the more allies we gain.

Waymon, as I've said many times in the past this is OUR, not mainsteam America's, issue. There are so many people that haven't heard or thought about Amendment 2 because it doesn't affect their own personal lives. And many of these people are of the same mindset as Grandma: they don't want to read (and learn) what all the words mean so they vote no on every amendment. Whether it's an educated or uneducated NO vote it's still a NO vote, getting us closer to the 41% we need to defeat this discriminatory amendment.

My Amendment 2 nervous-o-meter (N-O-M) will be getting higher next week. Right now my N-O-M is in overdrive as Saturday, in central Florida, is our Commitment Ceremony. We're leaving early tomorrow morning and there's still so much to do.