Alex Blaze

Lambda Legal sues because health care isn't a luxury

Filed By Alex Blaze | November 18, 2009 6:00 PM | comments

Filed in: Living, Politics
Tags: Arizona, health care reform, lambda legal

A few months ago, saying they needed to cut spending, the state of Arizona rescinded domestic partner benefits for same-sex partners of state employees. They seemed to forget that it would have saved a whole lot more money if they got rid of family benefits for heterosexual relationships, or, to be fair, for everyone, but this isn't about logic. This is about who's expendable and who's not.

Fortunately, Lambda Legal's suing to prevent the state from creating a system of unequal pay for equal work:

Lambda Legal represents ten state employees -- including from the Arizona Highway Patrol, the State Department of Game and Fish, and state universities -- who rely on health benefits from their employers to keep their families safe.

"This is an issue of equal pay for equal work," said Tara Borelli, staff attorney for Lambda Legal. "By stripping away these vital benefits from loyal state employees, the state isn't just paying them less for the same work than their heterosexual colleagues -- it's pulling away a vital lifeline that all workers need. This is simply cruel and saves the state next to nothing."

More after.

It's frustrating, because everyone's been getting a crash course the past year in the way the health care industry works and how it fleeces people, and also what happens to people who aren't covered. The cruelty in cutting health care for certain people that the state likes less should be obvious to everyone now.

The Catholic Church's argument in DC was pretty much the same this past week: they claimed they had a moral objection to paying the health benefits of the same-sex partners of employees in their charities that receive government funds. It's horrifying that they see supporting certain people's right to live (because we should be clear about what we're talking about when it comes to health care) as a endorsement of that person's relationships.

Lives of people they like less are merely abstract moral arguments, and they've got some chutzpah. They're the ones who have constructed a bizarre framework in which it's morally wrong to pay for certain people's health coverage, and they have the nerve to threaten more suffering if the city doesn't adopt their particular brand of moral depravity.

It isn't the same-sex domestic partners who should have to justify why they should be covered by the state of Arizona, who should have to wait for good economic times for the right to get sick without going bankrupt and the right to preventative health care. If we have a system that distributes health care access along the lines of families and jobs (and it's not looking like that's going to change any time soon), then it's the state who should have to justify why people in same-sex relationships are less worthy of living a healthy life than those in opposite-sex relationships.

Good on Lambda Legal for challenging this. "Tightening our belt" is one of the most common and bankrupt excuses when it comes to the government trying to get rid of programs that actually benefit people. It's a ruse, and the state should have to explain why same-sex partners are worth less than opposite-sex ones.

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In many countries, especially European ones like the UK, the Czech Republic or Belgium, healthcare is seen as a civil right, rather than a privilege or luxury as in the USA or most developing countries. Any British government that tried to get rid of the NHS would have the life expectancy of a mayfly.

I am so sorry that that Catholic Leadership has behaved with such ugliness.

Please know that there are many many more Catholics amongst us and who stand by us as allies that are working for our equality.

We may not speak with the authority of the Catholic Leadership, but we speak and we fight along side each of you in the light a Catholic Church that is of a good and loving God. No one can ever change that our God loves us all. Yes, even a Catholic God. And I am sorry that some Catholic Leaders speak in the name of God, when they are only speaking from their fears and prejudices.

A loving Catholic friend...

An old colleague of mine is one of the plaintiffs, so I've got my fingers especially crossed on this one.