Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Bill James: County needs to end domestic partner benefits

It didn't take Mecklenburg County commissioner Bill James long after Amendment One passed to start targetting eliminating benefits the county provides same-sex and other unmarried couples. In an early morning email to County Attorney Marvin Bethune and County Manager Harry Jones, he made his pitch:

"Since Amendment One has passed when will we get a memo or something that outlines what changes we need to make to our health plan to be in compliance? I recall when the Democrats on the Commission forced the issue and added these benefits for homosexuals that a number of legal experts said it was illegal then – including the City attorney. Now that Amendment one has passed it obviously is illegal to offer this benefit as there is now only one ‘domestic legal union’ recognized in the state.

"Prior to the vote most scholars (left and right) said that Amendment One would eliminate local faux ‘marriage’ benefits for homosexual employees. I would cite them but you know them all too well.

"Still, I would like to know when the Board can expect information on the changes Amendment One wrought (or are we going to break the law and spend scarce resources on litigation we will likely loose)?"

In a reply, Harry Jones said:
"Bill
This will acknowledge receipt of your email regarding the above subject. Our legal and human resources staffs are evaluating the Amendment, as well our policy, to determine what, if any, potential impact the Amendment will have on Mecklenburg County. As soon as we complete our evaluation we will brief the board at a future meeting on our findings, conclusions, and policy options available to you."

James also tweeted hours after the vote: "Now that #4Marriage #amendment 1 has passed - we need to eliminate those illegal benefits."

This is, of course, one of the fallouts many legal scholars predicted would occur if N.C. voters approved the constitutional ban lawmakers put on the ballot, one that not only banned same-sex marriage which was already banned in the state by law anyway, but also declared invalid as a "domestic legal union" in the state any relationship other than that of one man and one woman married to each other. Hopefully, other commissioners won't follow James' lead in trying to eliminate domestic partner benefits. They should look to Chapel Hill, Carrboro and Asheville whose leaders have reportedly already vowed to stand strong on keeping such benefits in place.

They also should pay attention to what the city of Charlotte is doing. City Manager Curt Walton included same-sex benefits in his budget proposal outlined today. The benefits would start in Jan. of 2013. Good for Walton in sticking to this proposal, the day after the amendment vote.

It's hardly surprising to see James once again hawking intolerance and prejudice. He said that voters in his district, by making him the winner in his District 6 primary race Tuesday night, showed they like what he does so he'll keep on doing it.

The rest of us - especially his colleagues on the commission - should keep telling and showing him WE don't like what he does and we will fight to keep him from getting his way.

Posted by Fannie Flono

28 comments:

Archiguy said...

Bill James again. This didn't take long. He won his primary yesterday, proving only that the primary process as currently constructed is a lousy way to pick candidates for the general election. Lord, what do we have to do to finally rid Charlotte of this human pestilence? A wooden stake through the heart (if you could find it)...?

John said...

Bill, do your own party a favor and shut up! The amendment did NOT make those benefits "illegal", it left it up to the courts to decide. You know very well that it was neither the intent of the amendment, nor the intent of the voters to eliminate those benefits. The intent was to protect the traditional definition of marriage. Push it and you will only play to the liberal steriotypes.

Fire Coach K said...

Remember when the pro-amendment folks said unmarried straight couples wouldn't be affected at all by this vote, and anyone who said otherwise was just a dirty liberal liar?

Sure didn't take long for the truth to come out.

Anonymous said...
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Get Er Done said...

Bill is the only one on the board with a moral backbone - the rest have no ethics or backbone.

If allow for domestic partner benefits, then it will just lead to "domestic pet" benefits and so forth - it will never stop.

Anonymous said...

To all those who doubted that Amendment One would have over-reaching consequences: here is your clear evidence. People like Bill James couldn't even wait 24 hours before trying to strip benefits from anyone in a relationship other than marriage as defined by the state. What a nightmare.

J said...

Here we go again - yet another blog post by a liberal elitist who labels anyone who disagrees with her as intolerant and prejudiced.

To be sure, Bill James is a self-serving, obnoxious blowhard, and he makes it tougher for the rest of us Republicans, since liberals love to paint all Republicans and conservatives as bigots and evildoers. But questioning the legality of domestic partner benefits in light of a Constitutional amendment against such unions is not intolerant or bigoted. He should not have used "illegal" in his description of the benefits and let the lawyers figure that out first.

So Bill James, quiet down for a little while on this. And liberals, stop insisting that anyone that disagrees with you is stupid, intolerant, bigoted, racist, and all the other negative absolutes you love to throw out.

Nicole Jenkins said...

I am OK with domestic pet benefits.

Jay said...

To Get Er Done: Opinions vary. Quite a bit in fact.

kantstanzya said...

Expecting the county to follow the law is "hawking intolerance and prejudice"? A private company can do anything they want. But 61% of the state clearly said they didn't support gay unions being classified as traditional marraige. I would assume that a similar majority don't want their tax dollars spent on gay partner benefits either. Same concept as not spending tax dollars on abortion...which IS legal.

It's not that hard to understand Ms. Flono. And I see once again who is the first out of the shute with the name calling....and it is not Bill James who appears to have sent a professional memo and is only doing his job.

Pathetic and hypocritical.

Fire Coach K said...

But you still get to paint anyone who writes something that you dislike as a "liberal elitist," right J?

LocalBusinessOwner said...

I find it interesting that James is so quick to cancel others` benefits while he has lived off the taxpayers dole for the last dozen years or more. Remember, this is the man who had to 'retire' in his 40s because he was unable to find a real job, and has lived off county benefits as an 'employee' for most of that time.

He has opposed anything constructive in the area, proposing that Ballantyne 'secede' from the rest of the city (yet if that would happen would likely have to employ the city/county for all of its basic services...) and basically hasn't been on a majority of anything substantial since 2000.

So when do we consider him a political gadfly and begin to ignore?

Veronica said...

"hawking intolerance and prejudice."???

Fannie you have fallen off your fannie. The people have clearly spoken statewide against a new definition of marriage.

It's now in the NC Constitution.

But it's Bill James who is hawking intolerance and prejudice?

He would appear to me to be merely asking the county manager to do his job.

LocalBusinessOwner said...

Mecklenburg County voted 54-46 against the marriage amendment, so clearly local sentiment differed from statewide. So it remains to be seen how the courts interpret already existing policy.

It may come down to how much jurisdiction an employer has in offering benefits. Ironically, one of the arguments that conservatives make with regards to contraceptives is that employers have a right to discretion in offering benefits. If that argument is to be used it can also apply to voluntary benefits like health care, etc.

Really!?! said...

Yep! Bill James comments are definitely influencing me to sign the petition for the DNC to be moved out of N.C.

CharlotteIn2012 said...

Fannie is the base line for just how bad the Observer's effort has become in helping create a nanny state.

I can just see Her typing away, thinking how she had to show this pernicious Bill James, just who all is in charge of the people's will in Charlotte.

Observer you have jumped the shark.

Noire said...

That's what NC voted for, why is anyone surprised! This wasn't just a vote to not allow same sex marriage, or didn't NC know that?

Unknown said...

The Campbell Law Professors addressed this in their position piece, there is no reason that these Benefits can not continue under Amendment One

http://www.voteformarriagenc.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/04/Campbell-White-Paper.pdf

"3. Will the Amendment bar public employers from offering insurance benefits to their employees’ domestic partners?
It depends on how “domestic partner” is defined. The Michigan Supreme Court answered yes in National Pride at Work, Inc. v. Governor of Michigan, 748 N.W.2d 524 (Mich. 2008), the leading case on the issue, but the insurance benefits in that case were premised upon the recognition of a narrowly-defined status (“domestic partner”) that was substantially similar to marriage. If “domestic partner” is defined in a way that does not create a status similar to marriage, North Carolina’s proposed marriage amendment would not prevent public employers from offering such coverage.
The insurance policies in National Pride at Work required that a couple meet certain criteria to qualify as “domestic partners” entitled to benefits under the policies. For example, they were required to be of the same gender as the other partner and they could not be related by blood in a manner that would bar their marriage to one another.52 The court noted that “[a]lthough there are . . . many different types of relationships in Michigan that are accorded legal significance— e.g., debtor-creditor, parent-child, landlord-tenant, attorney-client—marriages and domestic partnerships appear to be the only such relationships that are defined in terms of both gender and the lack of a close blood connection.”53
The court noted other similarities as well between the criteria for domestic partners under the policies and marriage. Domestic partnerships were relationships that only two persons could enter (the policies prohibited domestic partners from having another domestic partner relationship within the previous 6 months). They were required to undertake obligations of mutual support, have a partnership contract, be at least 18 years old, continue indefinitely until one of the partners takes affirmative action to terminate, and share a common residence.54 One of the policies specifically stated that it was intended “to provide insurance coverage and other benefits to domestic partners . . . identical to those provided to spouses of City employees,” and the other policies also invoked marriage as an analogous or comparable institution.55
The Michigan marriage amendment states that “the union of one man and one woman in marriage shall be the only agreement recognized as a marriage or similar union for any purpose.”56 Given the qualities that domestic partnerships, as defined by the insurance policies, held in common with marriages, the court in National Pride at Work concluded that “domestic partnerships are unions similar to marriage,”57 and thus the recognition of such partnership agreements in the insurance polices violated the marriage amendment:
[G]iven that the marriage amendment prohibits the recognition of unions similar to marriage “for any purpose,” the pertinent question is not whether these unions give rise to all of the same legal effects; rather, it is whether these unions are being recognized as unions similar to marriage “for any purpose.”

Unknown said...

Amendment One has zero effect, its up to Local Governments to decide. The campbell Law piece is really good insight.

John Street said...
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Unknown said...

Polygamy and Bigamy are Illegal....as are Incest, Anibeastiality, and Pedophilia....along with Gay Marriage which was Illegal in NC before Amendment One.

John Street said...

Amendment One is offensive, discriminatory, and hateful. It is a step backwards. A majority has voted to strip rights from a minority, but it is not the first time this has been done in our history. Amendment one is state sponsored Bigotry. Since ministers are now preaching politics, it is time to tax the churches. Welcome to NC, FIRST IN BIGOTRY.

John Street said...
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Jim said...

It is in no way illegal to offer those benefits. Amendment One was strictly a STATE government issue - as in what benefits the state government offices can offer. It has no bearing on county or city issues such as domestic partner benefits.

DeadRinger said...

Let's pump the brakes there Billy. Color/Sex/Lifestyle should not be deterrents to ANY US EMPLOYEE WHO RECIEVES BENEFITS THROUGH THE EMPLOYER, PERIOD! They have earned the right to those benefits, do they contribute differently? I say the working class people should vote on ALL POLITICIANS benefits that WE THE PEOPLE pay for. Serving the people is a priviledge, not a right you arrogant pr*ck!

Wiley Coyote said...

It's hardly surprising to see Flono once again hawking breaking the laws of this state because a vote didn't go her way.

You Dumb Rednecks said...

I really want to know who keeps electing this racist, bigoted butthead? Although Bill James has not won the 2012 election, he does earn the Republican nomination, which essentially is a slam dunk.

I am so open to getting as many people together as necessary to go all out for 5 months against this jerk, just so we can get him out of office once and for all. Bill James is an embarassment to Mecklenburg County residents.

CharlotteIn2012 said...

Good luck with your efforts, those of us who actually live in District Six support Bill.

One thing Fannie fails to do or mention is the every utterance of other members of the commission who say outrageous things.

Bill is not perfect but we all can not be like so many of those who have posted on this board.