Short Nerd Chief

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AFA says KY not keeping gay people properly underfoot

Posted by Fred on March 4, 2008

I no longer live in Kentucky, but if I did, I’d find the American “Family” Association’s latest attempt to browbeat the state legislature incredibly aggravating.  Here’s how they describe their latest favored pro-families-that-look-like-us legislation:

Senate Bill 40 – An Omnibus Pro-Life Bill: This bill: 1) mandates that an abortion-seeking woman be given the opportunity to see the abortionist’s ultrasound image of the unborn child, 2) bans partial-birth abortion, and 3) requires face-to-face consultation with the physician (rather than a taped recording). It has already passed its Senate committee and the full Senate (32-4). It only has to pass its House committee and the full House to become law. Kentucky is currently ranked 11th in the nation regarding good pro-life legislation. This would move the Commonwealth into the top five. More importantly, this will save the lives of unborn children! And, it will protect women from unbearable pain in later life. (As many as 50% of women who see their unborn child in an ultrasound choose life!)

There’s nothing particularly novel here, just the usual sort of “ban abortion through the back door by making it a pain in the ass” rigmarole.  It’s not clear, however, why the legislation is necessary. Are their really physicians who refuse to show a patient an ultrasound of their own body upon request?  After all, an ultrasound image is first and foremost an image of the woman’s body, not an illustration of the fetus and its temporary living quarters.  The US Congress has already acted to ban intact dilation and extraction, so passing a state-level ban is mere piling on, a bone to throw to the ravenous pro-life lobby.  Finally, while an argument can be made that physicians should consult with patients face-to-face rather than by recording, shouldn’t this requirement apply equally to all consultations, and not just pre-abortion consultation?  Writing the statute this way makes its true intent transparent — throw roadblocks in the way of a practice that, like it or not, is legal.  These sorts of statutes appear harmless on their face even to those who favor abortion rights, in that a woman who should not or does not want to carry a child to term can still terminate the pregnancy, but they’re not.  They’re not harmless for the same reason that incremental restriction on smoking (for example) is not harmless.  These types of laws restrict liberty and are designed for the sole purpose of eventually banning a legal act. If the AFA wants to ban abortion, if the AHA wants to ban smoking, if MADD wants to ban drinking, they should have the cojones to do so directly.

Senate Bill 112 – Legislation Barring the Creation of “Partner” Benefits: This bill bans state universities and state agencies from creating “domestic partner” benefits and it has passed its Senate committee and the full Senate (34-3). This is the “carry-over” issue from last year’s General Assembly and now it only has to pass its House committee and the full House to become law. UK and U of L continue to defy the 2004 Marriage Protection Amendment and to discriminate against family members of employees while covering live-in lovers and roommates.

This is one of the AFA’s favorite dead horses to beat.  The AFA sent out an “Action Alert” in February 2007 warning that UofL was “re-defin[ing] marriage by granting marriage benefits to unmarried, live-in partners.”  They sent out another one in March 2007 urging members to flood the legislature with calls and messages to get their “legislator to fulfill his oath of office by granting him the opportunity to vote to ‘support the constitution’.” Apparently there are no women in the Kentucky legislature.   The AFA followed these “alerts” with more of the same in May, July and August 2007, and again on February 1 of this year.  It’s always the same — those liberal universities in Louisville and Lexington are subverting the constitution and the will of the people by giving health benefits to unmarried partners of employees, and “discriminating” against families.  Neither is true.

First, while the AFA clearly wishes it were so, it’s not at all clear that the state constitution bans health benefits to unmarried individuals.  Here’s what it says:

Only a marriage between one man and one woman shall be valid or recognized as a marriage in Kentucky. A legal status identical or substantially similar to that of marriage for unmarried individuals shall not be valid or recognized.

Only the state can create a legal status “identical or substantially similar” to marriage.  Neither UofL nor UK, though state institutions, can create any sort of legal status for unmarried individuals.  Furthermore, granting health benefits to live-in partners hardly creates a legal status similar to marriage.  Such individuals can’t inherit property via intestate succession, they don’t have hospital visitation rights, they can’t sue for spousal or child support, they can’t seek custody of children, and they can’t file a joint tax return. Spouses can do all of those things.  Arguing that this legislation is needed to protect the 2004 constitutional amendment puts the lie to the argument that the 2004 vote was about protecting marriage. It was about punishing gay people, as the AFA admits in encouraging Kentuckians to tell the legislature that “[w]e stated in the 2004 Marriage Amendment that we do not want relationships other than marriage elevated.”  The AFA probably hopes that denying medical care to homosexuals will lead to a few early deaths.

The legislation is also not needed to prevent discrimination (a subject the AFA is rarely heard on when it’s discrimination against anyone other than white, heterosexual Protestants).  There are probably some UK employees taking care of adult children or aged parents or alcoholic siblings, who are not able to extend their health benefits to such people.  It is not clear, however, that this is a sizable group. The universities should be able to define their health plans to cover whomever they deem appropriate, and the AFA’s proposition that they must either restrict coverage to married heterosexuals or else cover everyone is nonsense.

Finally, the AFA can’t resist a final plea that the legislature mandate a society based on their particular view of morality, economic freedom be damned:

And while you’re on the line, deliver another blow to casinos by saying: “And stop casinos – Focus on families, not casinos.”

That is, however, a subject for another day.

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Patriots Favored to Win Super Bowl XLIII

Posted by Fred on February 6, 2008

NFL Take heart, Pats fans.  You may just have become the first 18-0 team to lose a Super Bowl, but the Vegas oddsmakers have installed Brady and the Boys as odds-on favorites to win their fourth title next year.  Here’s the top 5:

Team Odds
New England 3:1
San Diego 11:2
Indianapolis 12:1
Dallas 14:1
Pittsburgh 20:1

No real surprises there, although it is clear that Vegas thinks that (a) Rivers and Tomlinson will both be back at full strength for 2008 and (b) the AFC is significantly better, or at least deeper, than the NFC, with four AFC teams in the top 5.  Read on for more…

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