Starkville Takes Back Insurance Option For Unmarried Partners

Submitted By Anthony-Varicelli
Words: 874
Pages: 4

Starkville Takes Back Insurance Option for Unmarried Partners Emily Wagster Pettus’s (2014) article byline reads “JACKSON, Miss. — Starkville officials are now saying they won’t let city employees buy health insurance coverage for unmarried domestic partners, including those of the same sex” (p.1). The article expounds on yet another news story about what has been, and continues to be an extremely inflammatory issue. I chose this article specifically because it published earlier today, September 17th, 2014, and because its origins lie in the Deep South, where organizations such as the Christian legal group ‘Alliance Defending Freedom’ use “religious expression” and legislation like the Mississippi Religious Freedom Restoration Act to wage a seemingly never-ending war against the United States Constitution’s 14th amendment, The Equal Protection Clause, which requires each state to provide equal protection under the law to all people within its jurisdiction. Two weeks ago, Starkville became the first Mississippi city to offer insurance coverage for LGBT partners of municipal employees. But last night, city aldermen re-voted to delete part the insurance plan they had initially approved earlier this month. Under Starkville official’s new plan, city employees can buy coverage for a husband or wife, but not for an unmarried partner of the same or opposite sex. Starkville Mayor Parker Wiseman had previously endorsed and appeared in Human Rights Campaign promotional brochures as a supporter of the group’s goals of securing equal legal treatment for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people. Wiseman told The Associated Press in a phone interview today he plans to veto the latest decision. Starkville republican aldermen (who out-number democrat aldermen four-to-two) claim that they “didn’t have full information about insurance options the first time they voted.” They place the blame for that with democrat mayor Wiseman. Republican alderman Ben Carver said of Wiseman “He’s for the LGBT agenda. That’s fine, but he needs to be open and transparent with the board.” Wiseman claims he did not conceal information from the aldermen. Currently, the republican aldermen have enough votes to block a veto. The new policy will take effect when the city’s budget year begins Oct. 1. Article author Wagster Pettus (2014) quotes Wiseman as remarking:
This was not made an LGBT issue because it wasn’t an LGBT issue, it was about providing better insurance coverage to the loved ones of our employees. The sad thing is, some of our employees may have lost the opportunity to have their loved ones covered. (p.1) And yet Starkville alderman have certainly made it an LGBT issue. Currently, LGBT marriages are banned in Mississippi, which leaves LGBT couples as unmarried domestic partners, excluding them from the health insurance benefits that husbands and wives enjoy in that state. According to Amy (2014), representative of the Alliance Defending Freedom Kellie Fiedorek "Mississippi is free to define and recognize marriage only as the union of a man and a woman. To declare otherwise would turn state sovereignty on its head” (p.1). Mississippi Governor Phil Bryant stands by Mississippi's gay marriage ban, claiming “states should be allowed to make their own rules.” But in this student’s opinion, this claim is in direct opposition with the Constitution’s Equal Protection Clause. Governor Bryant is also in the news currently for intervening in a legal case involving a woman who wants the state to recognize her same-sex marriage (ordained in San Francisco in 2008) merely so that it could grant her a divorce. Bryant- represented by Christian legal group