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Arizona Governor Jan Brewer Revokes Domestic Partner Insurance Benefits For State Employees

Updated on September 24, 2009


If age has taught me anything it’s that nothing lasts forever. But unfortunately for Arizona state employees, forever didn’t even last a year. Last year, then Governor Janet Napolitano extended the definition of “dependent” to include Domestic Partners when it came to the state providing health benefit coverage. In a supposed effort to save the state money, now Governor Jan Brewer quietly signed a law this week redefining what a “dependent” is when it comes to the state’s responsibility for health benefit coverage. Her new “definition” does not include Domestic Partners of the same sex, Domestic Partners of opposite sex nor any of the above’s children aged 23-24 who are full time students or disabled adult dependents of state employees. According to reports from the web, this will affect 800 employees and of the 170 who applied for these benefits within the last year, forty were same sex couples and the rest fell into the other categories. From a $650 million dollar budget, this will save the state $3 million. In what everyone is calling a religious belief motivated move as opposed to a fiscally responsible move, those of us who got the news (and the wind knocked out of us) are of course angry but there’s also an overwhelming sadness. Arizona governor Jan Brewer revokes Domestic Partner insurance benefits for state employees – Don’t Get Me Started!

I was watching CNN the other day and they were showing the 91 year old Senator Byrd on the Senate floor (he was hospitalized and they were showing old footage with the story). Byrd was yelling and gesticulating to beat the band and a straight, forty-something co-worker said, “Wow, look at all of these old guys, they just don’t get it. They’re so out of touch.” This comment along with the news of Governor Brewer’s huge step back in the evolution of humanity with one swipe of her pen this week and the disgusting imagery of Tom Delay (yet another corrupt politician) strutting his stuff as it were on Dancing With The Stars, got me to thinking about the generation of white conservative politicians who are desperately trying to hold onto their power and fantasy of the world as it should be as the world changes around them. They refuse to see the world as it is and only see it as they wanted it to be back in 1950. All white, all men, all powerful.

And as I thought about this generation that continues to be in power, constantly trying to push down people who aren’t exactly like them, cutting their dirty deals, using government monies to fund their own pet projects or summer homes, I began to think of a monologue that Sidney Poitier delivered in the movie Guess Who’s Coming To Dinner written by William Rose. A landmark film about race, the movie is about a young girl (Katherine Houghton) who returns home from a trip to Hawaii in love with a black doctor (Sidney Poitier) whom she is anxious to marry. Katherine Hepburn and Spencer Tracy are the girl’s parents and Beah Richards and Roy Glenn play Sidney Poitier’s parents. Roy Glenn’s character, a retired mailman has just finished telling Poitier everything he and his mother sacrificed to give Sidney Poitier’s character the advantages he had to go to good schools, become a doctor, etc. While the words are specifically about race and parents, I think it still resonates for those of us who see the generation before us so out of touch with the world and who we are as a generation.

“Let me tell you something. I owe you nothing. If you carried that bag a million miles, you did what you were supposed to do because you brought me into this world and from that day you owed me everything you could ever do for me, like I will owe my son, if I ever have another. But you don’t own me. You can’t tell me when or where I’m out of line or try to get me to live my life according to your rules. You don’t even know what I am, Dad. You don’t know who I am, how I feel, what I think. And if I tried to explain it the rest of your life you would never understand. You are years older than I am. You and your whole lousy generation believes the way it was for you is the way it’s got to be. And not until the whole of your generation has lain down and died will the dead weight of you be off our backs! You understand? You’ve got to get off my back, Dad. You’re my father. I’m your son. I love you. I always have and I always will. But you think of yourself as a colored man. I think of myself as a man.”

Do I think everyone in the generation before me doesn’t “get it” and needs to die before we’ll see change? No. My own parents do not feel this way and there are plenty of examples of even politicians like Ted Kennedy and all the work he did for equality that would prove me wrong in a second. But for me, it’s about the people who still believe there’s a “moral majority” the millions in a generation of people who still think it’s okay to make fun of blacks, gays, anyone who isn’t white like them. Who think they’re somehow better and therefore deserve benefits and rights that those of us who are “beneath them” do not deserve. Yes, I do believe that until those people in the generation before me have “lain down and died will the dead weight of them be off our backs.” And how sad that people in power like a Governor Brewer don’t get it and try to protect their antiquated view of the world and its inhabitants. To paraphrase from the quote above, “She only sees me as a gay man. I think of myself as a man.” Arizona governor Jan Brewer revokes Domestic Partner insurance benefits for state employees – Don’t Get Me Started!

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