Saturday, October 07, 2006

The Regents and the Marriage Amendment

Did the UW Board of Regents "play politics" in passing a resolution opposing the marriage amendment? I guess it depends on what you think that the role of the Regents is supposed to be. Should they take positions on issues that are outside of their authority but which they think will have an impact on the university? Apart from whether it is politically smart to do so, that they may weigh in on things that they think will affect the system does not shock me.

Having said that, however, it strikes me as inappropriate and foolish for them to put a partisan spin on it. Board President David Walsh statement that "Mark Green and others will say we're out of step with the mainstream." I suppose that he will (actually, he has) but it's inappropriate for Walsh to involve himself in the gubernatorial race in his capacity as a Regent. It's also ill advised. Green may be (probably will be)Governor in January. We know Walsh is a Democrat, but why go out of your way to make an enemy?

As to the merits, the idea that the amendment would prohibit the university from extending benefits to an employee's designated domestic partner seems to be weak. It is inconsistent with the amendment's language (giving someone health insurance does not create or recognize a status substantially similar to marriage) and is contrary to the expressed intent of the amendment's author. I know that some people take the opposing view, but it strikes me as a stretch.

As for the supposed value of domestic partner benefits is attracting employees, strike me as skeptical. Organizations that have made these benefits available find that they are rarely used. They may be a good idea but I doubt that they have any substantial impact on recruiting. Universities offer them because the kind of people who run universities tend to favor them. There's nothing wrong with that but the absence (or presence) of such benefits is not going to make or break the UW.

18 comments:

Dad29 said...

The cost estimate from Doyle ($500K) is misleading, I think.

"Partner" bennies must be given to ALL live-in, hetero- or homo-.

That'll jack up the costs significantly.

Anonymous said...

"As to the merits, the idea that the amendment would prohibit the university from extending benefits to an employee's designated domestic partner seems to be weak. It is inconsistent with the amendment's language (giving someone health insurance does not create or recognize a status substantially similar to marriage) and is contrary to the expressed intent of the amendment's author. I know that some people take the opposing view, but it strikes me as a stretch.

As for the supposed value of domestic partner benefits is attracting employees, strike me as skeptical. Organizations that have made these benefits available find that they are rarely used. They may be a good idea but I doubt that they have any substantial impact on recruiting. Universities offer them because the kind of people who run universities tend to favor them. There's nothing wrong with that but the absence (or presence) of such benefits is not going to make or break the UW."

Where to start with such illogical and demonstrably false arguments?

Let's start with your first sentence. Isn't this one of the main objectives of the language, to "protect" the public against future legislatures and governors who may be tempted to extend such benefits to a particular class of state employees?

It's not that the people who run universities "favor" such benefits, it's that some prospective faculty hires demand them as a condition of employment! Right now every other Big Ten university offers such benefits. Let's take a mid-level junior faculty member in the astromony department at Penn State who currently receives such benefits. How could the Madison campus woo him or her without matching this part of the benefit package?

Perhaps such an argument is above you since Marquette isn't exactly competing for the academic stars. The Madison campus is, of course, and this is a problem as the departure of the engineering faculty member over the summer makes abundantly clear.

Bully for the Regents for letting the faculty know that it isn't for lack of trying that we are uncompetitive in this area. Yes, Walsh has a tendency to "shoot from the lip" which is regretable, but we are dealing with mossbacks here (just like we are on the stem cell issue).

Xoff said...

Green may be governor in January, but "probably" won't be. No traction.

Wishful thinking on your part, counselor.

Dad29 said...

Shark, I have the same "anony" working my combox on the same issue.

Geez. Based on Anony's posts, he/she/it has an IQ of at least 300, (it's slightly below average for the UW-Mad faculty) and yet--is unable to construct clear and concise argument.

Must be one of the "stars" UW recruits and MU can't get...

Rick Esenberg said...

Anon

What point is served by getting snarky about MU? It hasn't interjected itself into this debate.

It could make a difference in some cases. It could make a difference where a desired faculty member has a partner to whom he or she is not married and who is not employed in a position offering comparable benefits. The number of such cases is, I think, extremely small.

But if its not - or the UW wants to provide those benefits anyway - I don't think the amendment will prevent it.

Anonymous said...

Admit this Rick: you and your ADF colleagues will move in right afetr the amendment passes to sue to prevent domestic parntership benefits. That is exactly what your pals have done in other states with similar amendments. And when you're not suing to stop health insurance of all things, you are writing legal briefs in support of guys charged with domestic violence in Ohio. Yepper, family values at their best folks. Let's rip away health insurance and what the heck-- throw out domestic violence protections for unwed families! You and your buddies engage in the worst kind of bait and switch there is: deny that this will affect benefits then immediately turn around and sue to prevent it.

But you have great support from guys like Dave Zien. What is he on, his third marriage? But he votes to protect the sanctity of marriage. If this were less hurtful, the hypocrisy would be amusing. As it is, it is sickening.

How can you, as an attorney, support such blatant abuse of the constitution in the name of political expediency? You know it is just a get out the vote attempt. It is about to bite the Republicans in the butt. Wisconsin citizens are smarter than you give them credit for.

Rick Esenberg said...

Anon

I have no idea what ADF will do. I take referrals from them but I don't work for them and I don't get to tell them what to do.
The challenge to domestic partner benefits in Michigan was brought by the Thomas More Law Center and its some obscure group that is doing the domestic violence thing in Ohio. They are involved in a case here (and in others elsewhere) that oppose arguments that domestic partner benefits are constitutionally compelled, but that's a different issue and they're right on that.

I do know that ADF has publicly endorsed reciprocal benefit schemes and the extension of fringe benefits to someone you designate seems an awful lot like that.

I am fairly certain, however, that I won't be involved in such a case since I have publicly stated that I don't think the amendment bars the extension of fringe benefits to whomever an employer wants to extend them to.

Anonymous said...

The amendment does not "bar" anything except marriage. It is the second clause that will be used by ADF and its lackeys to bar domestic partnership benefits and other legal protections. If you had any guts at all, you would actually state what you believe, which is that the first clause is reasonable and the second clause is not. And then you would vote No and urge your friends and colleagues to vote No. But then your referrals from ADF would dry up, eh? How do you justify such blatant partisan manipulation of a constitution? You know why it is on th eballot, and it sure ain't because of gay marriage "threatening" straight marriage.

As for dad29 whining about the cost of benefits, why don't you reverse that? I have been paying taxes all my life and not receiving remotely the same protections. How is that fair or reasonable?

Rick Esenberg said...

Anon

I don't "admit" that because I don't think it happens to be true. The second sentence is necessary to avoid a Vermont-like situation.

As for referrals from ADF, I don't think they require lawyers to agree with every position they might take. In any event, its not like I get paid for that stuff. I do it for free.

Anonymous said...

So let's consider this . . . a group of folks who are now legally prevented from marrying by state statutes because they are of the same gender will also soon be prevented by the Constitution from doing something "similar" to marrying. And under this same change to the Constitution, a second group of folks, those of opposite gender, will also be prevented from legally enforcing arrangements they make that are "similar" to marriage. (By the way . . . If the institution of marriage is so badly in need of strengthening, then why is it so urgent that we ban arrangements that are "similar" to marriage???) I suppose we will "strengthen" marriage among the second group by coaxing more of them into precipitous weddings -- folks who will increase the rate of messy divorces. Meanwhile we'll ban marriage entirely among those in the first group, including even those who have been (or would make) perfectly successful spouses, parents and community members. It's just another case of public policy from a reactionary right wing Republican regime. Why expect it to make rational sense?

Anonymous said...

So you want to "avoid a Vermont-like situation?" Let's be clear: what rights do you support for gay families and what rights should we prevent. I'll start a list, and you can respond with a simple "yes" (we should give them those rights" or "no" we should deny those rights:

Note: to elimate the public/private argument, let's say these "rights" would be given to public employees.

1.Health insurance for partner and/or children

2. Ability to take family medical leave if partner and/or child is sick or dying

3. Adoption

4. Ability to take funeral leave if partner or child dies

5. Right to receive medical records of partner (careful here, HCPOA does not allow this)

6. Right to view educational rrecords of child (assuming not the bio child)

7. Default position of medical decision-making (Rick, do you carry weith you at all times a HCPOA for your wife?)

8. Right to be considered "family" in Intensive Care Unit or other emergent health situations.


Let's just start with those to see which ones should be denied or granted. You know there are hundreds more.

Anonymous said...

So you want to "avoid a Vermont-like situation?" Let's be clear: what rights do you support for gay families and what rights should we prevent. I'll start a list, and you can respond with a simple "yes" (we should give them those rights" or "no" we should deny those rights:

Note: to elimate the public/private argument, let's say these "rights" would be given to public employees.

1.Health insurance for partner and/or children

2. Ability to take family medical leave if partner and/or child is sick or dying

3. Adoption

4. Ability to take funeral leave if partner or child dies

5. Right to receive medical records of partner (careful here, HCPOA does not allow this)

6. Right to view educational rrecords of child (assuming not the bio child)

7. Default position of medical decision-making (Rick, do you carry weith you at all times a HCPOA for your wife?)

8. Right to be considered "family" in Intensive Care Unit or other emergent health situations.


Let's just start with those to see which ones should be denied or granted. You know there are hundreds more.

Anonymous said...

(Chirp chirp chirp)
Silence

Always silence when we ask: what protections do you support? Are you afraid to say "none," or are you more afraid to list some?

reddess said...

Anon

He happens to be working right now(no not on anything related to destroying modern civilization)and doesn't have time to blog every few hours (as you seem to).
And speaking of having "any guts at all", if you are going to insult people in your posts, why not have the courage to let people know who you are? It's easy to condemn while hiding under the protective guise of anonymity.

Anonymous said...

Note to Reddess... "Anon" covers anyone who is not registered with Blogger. The anon messages are posted by several people. Also, the messages are posted over several days, though not so delinieated by the program.

And I appreciate your point in revealing who you are, as you have done. Wait.. Umm..

And still, no word on what protections should be permitted and what protections should be denied. Funny thing is, I have NEVER seen a vote Yes person answer this question.

reddess said...

Anon

Wait...um...it says who I am right under the "about me" section on the blog page. Feel free to read it.

I am not registered with blogger, post from my own computer and have no problem.

The timing of your recent posts is quite obvious and needs no deliniation.

Anonymous said...

Reddess. Got ya. Defender of the hubby who won't respond to the question about the protections that should and should not be denied. And no, there are several anons responding here, not just me. As to your astute analysis of the Anon postings, it sure looks I can write quickly, as several different anons post long (unanswered) posts at the same time.

Maybe you'll take a crack at this since your husband is too busy working to respond. You have a grandson, correct? Which legal protections do you believe he should have denied to him if his parents can't be married?

1. Health insurance?
2. Social Security?
3. Financial Support?
4. Any other the other hundreds that are conferred automaticcally to other children?

Next question. If your grandson, God forbid, turns out to be gay, which of the following rights should he be denied:

1. Right to visit his partner in the ICU
2. The right to ask the police to enforce domestic violence protections
3. The right to adopt his child.

See, the problem is that you folks don't ever answer this question. I dare you to.

reddess said...

Anon

Why do you assume that I have the same opinions on this as my husband? Believe it or not, we do disagree on some things. I am perfectly capable of forming my own opinions. Really.

And Rick hardly needs me to protect him. I only interjected myself into this debate in response to your "chirp-chirp" comment. You were implying that he, as all people that are for this amendment, are unable to answer your questions. I wanted to assure you that he can and will respond when he has the time.
By the way, I have heard many people (on TV or at debates) respond to the questions that you ask. Your insistence that they can't makes me wonder two things...either you aren't getting the response that you want, or you are not able to respond to what they say.
Patience grasshopper (no that's not some type of Irish slur;) your answer will come.