Greg Abbott's Domestic Partner Benefits Ruling Greeted With a Shrug

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At first glance -- and second, and third -- Attorney General Greg Abbott's opinion on Monday that cities, counties, and school districts are barred by the Texas Constitution from offering health benefits to the domestic partners of employees would seem to be a stumbling block on the road toward equal treatment for gays and lesbians.

That's not, by and large, how it's being taken by advocates of domestic partner benefits. Sure, there were the obligatory complaints from the ACLU and others on the left, but local governments that already extend coverage to same-sex partners seem inclined to ignore Abbott's directive. And Equality Texas, an Austin-based advocacy group, immediately called the opinion a "huge win."

How so? As Chuck Smith, the group's executive director, argued yesterday in an email to supporters, Abbott's decision offers a "roadmap forward." Local governments can still offer domestic partner benefits, they just need to structure them in a way that don't create a "legal status identical or similar to marriage," which is explicitly prohibited by the state constitution. That's fairly easy to do.

Then there's the fact that Abbott's opinion is merely that: an opinion, one person's prediction of how Texas courts would rule if tasked with deciding the issue. It does not carry the force of law, and cities, counties, and school districts are free to ignore it.

And so you have the city of Austin agreeing to disagree with Abbott and others, like the city of San Antonio and Dallas County, that say they are reviewing the opinion but don't seem inclined to change.

That's not to say that Abbott's opinion is insignificant. It could cause local governments considering offering domestic partner benefits to hesitate, or perhaps embolden litigious taxpayers. But most are treating Abbott's opinion as the political document it is, a morsel of red meat Abbott's throwing to conservatives in advance of his expected 2014 bid for governor. It's almost like they knew this was going to happen.

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9 comments
bealotcoolerifyoudid
bealotcoolerifyoudid

Okay, I think I can get my comments for all of todays articles in one place as they weave the intricate web of conspiracy and Sexual Anarchy:

So Abbott’s group is the Sexual Theocracy fighting against the Sexual Anarchy Agenda. We know Abbott wants to enforce the Sexual Theocracy by going even further back in time when soldiers were quartered in people’s homes to keep an eye on everything.

Thankfully the Constitution has the Third Amendment.But the wise mayor of Gun Barrel City knows the populace must be armed to prevent the Sexual Theocracy from intruding upon our Third Amendment Rights. However, some suspect this is a front and that he is into Sexual Anarchy more than the Third Amendment.

JWP has a safe raided by the FBI, rumor has it that it has a long lost copy of the Sexual Anarchy Agenda’s Manifesto. Mike Miles knows this and is trying to shame JWP with the South Dallas Black Churches that are actually part of Abbott’s ST group. It is thought the JWP is not actually down with the SAA, but is using the copy of the Manfiesto which he stole from W to blackmail, I mean African-American mail, Hunt.

And how did JWP steal the Manifesto from W? W left it in the changing room at Neiman Marcus.

Myrna.Minkoff-Katz
Myrna.Minkoff-Katz topcommenter

Abbott and like right-wing troglodytes are being left in the dust.  Most of America has already moved far forward on gay rights.  The trogs throw a temper tantrum when they perceive their rights are being compromised, but do a 180 when anyone not like themselves demand their rights as US citizens.

bealotcoolerifyoudid
bealotcoolerifyoudid

@Myrna.Minkoff-Katz "far forward" so there is a left, a right and now a forward?  Too much geometry in politics.  I suppose if there is a forward there is also a backward then?

txsouthpaw
txsouthpaw

@Myrna.Minkoff-Katz Agreed. They are growing yet more resentful and desperate after having repeatedly climbed into the dumpster of history. These clowns comprise what amounts to the modern John Birch society and are the laughing stock of the world. Their ideology bares a remarkable resemblance to the Taliban's.

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