Hate never takes a holiday, not when a vote is pending on reauthorizing spending on the private option expansion of Medicaid.
With a major House vote likely coming tomorrow, the Arkansas Family Council — a “Christian” group dedicated to discrimination against gay people and to making abortion a crime — has written legislators to notify them that Arkansas Blue Cross is extending insurance coverage to same-sex couples legally married in other states.
The weight of court ruling after court ruling is that government cannot discriminate in benefits against people who have obtained legal marriage in the states. It is called equal protection. It is a bedrock U.S. constitutional principle. The Arkansas Family Council argues that, if the Blue Cross policy includes coverage under the federally financed private option Medicaid expansion plan adopted by the state (it has no evidence than it does and see further note, it probably doesn’t), it conflicts with the “spirit” of the Arkansas Constitution. A constitutional amendment pushed by the Family Council prohibits same-sex marriage and the providing of any benefits of marriage to same-sex couples.
A private organization is free to do what it wishes, of course. But the Family Council wants to enshrine discrimination in state law at every possibility, even for a program to which the state doesn’t contribute a dime. Arkansas should never, it believes, do the dastardly thing of giving same-sex couples the full faith and credit they are entitled to from a legal contract in another state. You can bet an amendment will be offered to prohibit this in Arkansas even if it’s unnecessary. You can bet it is part of a strategy to attempt to kill the private option.
Hard to believe the feds would send money to a state that discriminates, when the Justice Department is no longer enforcing the Defense of Marriage Act. Maybe we should hope for a victory for Family Council hate. Then the whole law can be struck down, including the terrible amendments offered by Nate Bell to begin the crib death of the program in a way that punts the harm to 100,000 Arkansans until after this year’s election.
It’s cold comfort that the Jerry Coxes of the world will eventually lose this battle. In Arkansas, meanness is all too abundantly available, not just against gay people, but the poor generally.
PS — Republican Rep. Justin Harris, who makes a living off state-supplied money to his church-oriented pre-school, said in response to a Tweet by me that he knew about equal protection. It applies to Christians, too, he Tweeted. Meaning, I guess, 1) that all Christians discriminate against gay people like he does and 2) that equal protection means he should be allowed to mandate discrimination against those with whom he disagrees. Wrong on both counts. Courts soon should set him straight.
PPS — David Ramsey says only individual coverage, no family plans, are sold under the private option. So this is even more of a red herring than originally thought.
Family Council news release follows.
On Monday, Family Council President Jerry Cox sent a letter to members of the Arkansas Legislature asking if any public funds are being used to provide health insurance for Arkansas same-sex couples through the Medicaid Private Option Plan.
In his letter to lawmakers, Cox referenced a notification that Health Advantage, a licensee of Arkansas Blue Cross and Blue Shield, has extended insurance benefits to same-sex couples who have been legally married in a state that recognizes same-sex marriage.
“If Arkansas Blue Cross Blue Shield is offering health insurance to same-sex couples through its licensees, does this include same-sex couples who are covered by the state’s Medicaid Private Option Plan or any other plans?” Cox asked.
“While Arkansas Blue Cross Blue Shield and its licensees are free to sell health insurance to anyone they choose, it is another matter if they are using tax dollars to recognize same-sex marriages from other states. I don’t believe most people believe this is a proper use of our tax dollars. Hopefully, Blue Cross and Blue Shield can provide assurances that no public funds are being used to give same-sex couples the same insurance benefits as married couples,” Cox said.