Obama and health benefits for gay employees




There’s a controversy brewing over whether the federal government should provide health benefits for gay employees.

Some have invoked the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), which says that the federal government can’t treat same-sex relationships as marriage, to argue that the feds can’t provide these benefits. But that misses the point. The federal government provides lots of benefits to families, even though members of those families aren’t “married.” Your kids are your family, and receive benefits based on that status, even though you’re not married to your kids. DOMA doesn’t say that gay couples can’t be treated as family, it says they can’t be treated as married.

That’s not an artificial distinction. In society today, even among many politicians, including George W. Bush, benefits aren’t the problem. The term “marriage” is the problem. Even conservative politicians, even GOP chair Michael Steele, have said that some kind of benefits for gay couples, be they hospital visitation or whatever, are fine – the sticking point whether we let those couples marry. But clearly even those conservatives like Steele and Bush make a distinction between marriage (which they’re against) and benefits (which they’re for). So per se benefits are not akin to marriage. Thus, offering benefits does not violate DOMA’s proscription against marriage.

As for the NYT offering the straw man that if Obama helps gays achieve their civil rights, it will tick off Republicans who won’t help him with the rest of his agenda. Here’s a news flash. Republicans aren’t helping Obama with his agenda one iota. In fact, they’re voting en masse against it. The fact that Obama were to refuse to help gay and lesbian Americans achieve the same civil rights granted to his generation just decades ago would not somehow inspire Republicans to somehow vote for his agenda. It’s not going to happen. Ever. And the sooner Democrats get over this romantic notion of “If we just play nice with the Republicans, they’ll stop being mean to us,” the sooner we can move on and fix this country.


CyberDisobedience on Substack | @aravosis | Facebook | Instagram | LinkedIn. John Aravosis is the Executive Editor of AMERICAblog, which he founded in 2004. He has a joint law degree (JD) and masters in Foreign Service from Georgetown; and has worked in the US Senate, World Bank, Children's Defense Fund, the United Nations Development Programme, and as a stringer for the Economist. He is a frequent TV pundit, having appeared on the O'Reilly Factor, Hardball, World News Tonight, Nightline, AM Joy & Reliable Sources, among others. John lives in Washington, DC. .

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