A couple of points about the proposal for domestic partner benefits that is pending before the legislature.
1. We are told that the legislation is critical to retaining and attracting good employees (because there are presumably lots of people who need this), but reassured that it won't cost much money (because not many people need this). It's either one or the other.
The argument that it is needed because the state government or university might lose one or two exceptionally valuable employees who have a domestic partner that is otherwise uninsured (such, as presumably, this guy) is economically illiterate. If the problem is simply the absence of benefits (as opposed to, say, the desire to make a political statement on the way out after choosing to leave for other reasons)then the state ought to be willing to pay these incredibly valuable employees enough to permit them to pay for these benefits. If, for example, the only thing that caused Rob Carpick to take his 3.4 million dollars in grants to Penn was the absence of health insurance for his partner, it ought to have been a rather simple matter to increase his salary by the 10-20k that would have permitted him (after taxes) to purchase that insurance.
2. This article, at least, attributes the push for benefits to Fair Wisconsin's new political clout which presumably arises because, near as I can tell, it 1) "brought" lots of people to the polls who 2) voted against it's position on the amendment (brilliant!) but who 3)nevertheless voted for Democrats (the cross tabs I have seen on black and hispanic voters in the fall election are astonishing - they voted overwhelmingly for Democrats and for the marriage amendment) who must now, in response to these new voters, 4) ignore their likely preferences on this issue.
I like to think I am politically sophisticated but that doesn't parse for me.
As an aside, it strikes me as ironic if Fair Wisconsin has any "new political clout." Fair Wisconsin's performance on the marriage amendment is on the short list of epic chokes. We're talking the Colts loss in Super Bowl III or Georgetown's defeat by Villanova in the 1985 NCAA championship. They outspent the opposition by about a zillion to one and cornered virtually every political and editorial endorsement in the state. And they got squashed.
Moreover, they managed not only to lose, but to lose dirty, running one of the most deceptive and unethical campaigns in Wisconsin history. For gays and lesbians in Wisconsin, "not in my name" ought to have new meaning.
3. For me, the biggest problem with the Democrats' proposal is that it applies to straight couples. As I have blogged before, I believe that a case can be made for extending reciprocal benefit status to a series of relationships (not just sexual ones) in which two people are mutually dependent but ineligible to marry. That leaves heterosexual couples out and for good reason. Society has an interest in encouraging marriage in heterosexual relationships. Extending the benefits of marriage to straight couples who choose not to marry steps on that interest.