Luzerne County may have to raise taxes, lay off workers and/or cut benefits. So what does county Councilman Jim Bobeck propose? Giving same- sex couples health care coverage.
Bobeck is concerned that not doing so could stop some highly qualified gay man or lesbian from applying for county jobs. We need to get progressive, people.
We also need to plug a $2 million budget deficit for starters before worrying about adding new benefits for future county workers. Last I heard, wait, I haven’t heard of anyone storming the courthouse demanding health care benefits for homosexual couples.
“Health insurance benefits have become a very big reason why people may or may not apply to the county, and I think it’s important to try to get the best people possible,” said Bobeck, according to a Times Leader article by Jennifer Learn-Andes.
Again, isn’t the county planning to lay off workers instead of advertising for new ones?
Bobeck told Learn-Andes he can’t project the cost of this proposed new benefit because it’s unknown how many gay employees or future gay ones may be affected. Well, maybe it’s time to do the math with a huge deficit and a proposed 8-percent tax hike hanging over the county courthouse.
Regarding possible claims of discrimination, Attorney Bobeck said, “I see tons of people most likely saying that.” That’s probably because tons would say that.
So Bobeck is okay with extending health care benefits to a gay employee’s live-in partner but not to a straight employee’s live-in mate and that’s not discrimination?
No, he argues, because the straights can get married where the gays cannot, at least not in Pennsylvania. “We need to level the playing field,” he said.
Maybe Mr. Bobeck can explain who he thinks he is to tell a straight employee’s mate, NO BENEFITS FOR YOU because you can wed. He said a gay couple must be in a committed relationship for at least a year before applying for benefits. What about a committed man and woman living together for five years? Will the county punish them for deciding, for whatever reason, not to tie the knot?
I can already envision Mike Cefalo hopping in his ambulance scouting out straight couples who believe they’re being denied a benefit gays are getting because they do not want to get married when they could.
Bobeck seems to have thought this through, saying gay couples would have to prove they’re committed to each other through either a joint lease, deed or credit card or by having named his or her loved one as a beneficiary. They would also have to sign an affidavit attesting they are not in a relationship solely to obtain benefits.
Will they also have to sign an affidavit swearing they have sex at least two times a week to prove they’re gay?
Councilman Bobeck also said that under his proposal neither of the same-sex partners can legally be married to someone else. We would hope not. That could get messy.
Learn-Andes reported that in 2012, outgoing councilwoman Elaine Maddon Curry asked her colleagues to consider offering health benefits to domestic partners because this would show that Luzerne County is progressive, although she did stress that benefits should not go to those in “frivolous” relationships. And which judge and jury would decide which relationship is frivolous and which is not?
Steven A. Urban had said he was opposed to this new benefit because the county is in a financial crisis and our state defines marriage as a union between a man and a woman. Harry Haas, who thankfully was re-elected since he seems to exhibit common sense, said he didn’t believe taxpayers should be forced to fund something of which they disagree.
Councilman Rick Morelli, I think, said it best, that this is an issue that should not be shoved through, especially amid serious year-end budget considerations. He also expressed concern that some could take advantage of a loophole to obtain benefits.
Well that won’t happen because Jim Bobeck has it covered. A gay person cannot be married to someone else, must be in a committed same-sex relationship for at least a year and sign that affidavit that you’re not pretending to be gay just to get health care benefits at taxpayers’ expense.
Why again is this issue even up for discussion at this point in time?
- Betty Roccograndi