SPRINGFIELD - There's a growing sentiment among state lawmakers that they'd "just like to get the gay marriage vote over with, and move on to more important issues like pensions and the budget." After all, they say, only Christian fundamentalists, social Neanderthals and Bible Thumpers care whether gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transgenders are allowed to marry.
But what if gay marriage impacted the state budget and the taxpayers directly?
In March, the U.S. Department of Justice's "DOJPride Board" gave U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder a list of things he should do in order to prepare for more expansive gay rights. One of those things is to prepare for a type of taxpayer-funded gay reparations for past discriminations.
Under the first suggestion in their March 2013 letter to Holder, they recommend:
1. End and remedy the disparity in employee benefits as soon as possible.
a. Start planning now for the eventuality that DOMA will be struck down by the Supreme Court, so that equal benefits can be extended to lesbian, gay and bisexual employees without delay.
b. Ensure that benefits are extended not only to same-sex spouses but same-sex domestic partners, as well.
c. Ensure that employees who have been discriminated against are made whole and receive benefits retroactively.
Section "c" goes on, explaining that backpay may be due to past discrimination of LGBT employees that work for the Department of Justice, because of not being able to claim partner benefits in the past - in other words, reparation for historic bigotry in public policy. They write:
We also ask that the Department, in order to remedy the effect of past discrimination against its employees, allow Department employees who have paid out-of-pocket costs for premiums for health insurance and other benefits be permitted to submit claims for compensation, retroactive to June 2, 2010, the date of the President’s memorandum regarding Extension of Benefits to Same-Sex Domestic Partners of Federal Employees. This would be a clear statement of the Department’s support for its employees who have experienced discrimination for many years, and it would be consistent with the Department’s and the President’s position on the importance of achieving a full measure of equality for LGBT individuals.
In addition to the DOJPride's 3-page letter to Holder listing other suggestions, they published a 2 page memorandum "LGBT Tips for Managers" (see below) giving an array of specific "to dos" concerning their interaction with LGBT employees.
If an employee "comes out" to a DOJ manager, he or she is instructed to be verbally supportive of their sexual orientation, saying "Don't judge or remain silent. Silence will be interpreted as disapproval."
And when interacting with a DOJ employee, managers are instructed "Do use inclusive words like 'partner,' 'significant other' or 'spouse' rather than gender-specfic terms like 'husband' and 'wife' (for example, in invitations to office parties or when asking a new employee about his/her home life)."
About transgenders, the DOJ managers are told "Do use a transgender person's chosen name and the pronoun that is consistent with the person's self-identified gender." Then, "Do talk in staff meetings about why diversity is important to you as a manager, and make it clear you define diversity to include both sexual orientation and gender identity."
Some thought passing civil unions would resolve the gender issue in Illinois. Two years later, gay marriage is now expected to help the state move forward to more crucial, pertinent issues.
The DOJPride Board's letter provides evidence that more gay issues are ahead in Washington DC, and, most likely in Springfield and other state capitals, as well. And sooner or later, the gender issue will come around to a heavy cost for taxpayers.