domestic partner benefits

Senate Kills Life Bills, Passes Threats To Family

If the past two days aren't evidence enough that the Virginia Senate must change, we honestly don't know what is. In a 48-hour period since Wednesday, the Senate, where Democrats hold a 22-18 majority, has passed several bills that undermine the values of Virginia while defeating common sense measures that would reduce the number of abortions and advance a culture of life. On Wednesday, it passed legislation adding sexual orientation to state government's non-discrimination law (SB 747), a bill that gives state government agencies the ability to provide domestic partner benefits (SB 1122), and a proposal that is an attack on Virginia's abstinence centered family life education policy (SB 967).

In yesterday's Senate Education and Health Committee, five pro-life bills were defeated, including legislation that would have provided women seeking an abortion an opportunity to view an ultrasound (SB 1435); created wrongful death protections for the unborn (SB 1207 and SB 1378); and criminalized the act of coercing someone to have an abortion (SB 1217). The committee also rejected a bill that would prohibit health insurance companies that provide elective abortion coverage from participating in the state-run exchanges required by President Obama's federal health insurance scheme (SB 1202).

As in past years, the Senate has proven to be a killing field for pro-family, pro-life legislation, as well as the source of bills that undermine Virginia's values. The question now becomes, are pro-family Virginians finally tired of this? If so, this November all 40 members of the Senate face re-election. Let's face it — having the truth and the facts on our side, having a professional team of advocates to influence legislators, having a grassroots network across Virginia simply isn't enough. We have to change the people who sit in that chamber.

This year is our opportunity to break through this barrier and change the future of Virginia. We need to add more conservative voices to the Senate. When it had a Republican majority in the past the outcome wasn't much better. We need principled conservatives in office. The Family Foundation and The Family Foundation Action will do everything possible to ensure that Virginians know exactly what the stakes are — and which candidates stand with us and which stand against us — as the elections approach. Please click here to learn more about our Ignite Campaign and how you can help.

Please also know that there are several members of the Senate (15) that voted with The Family Foundation on every one of the bills. We thank them for their stand on principle. We especially thank those Senators who carried pro-life legislation this year, including Mark Obenshain (R-26, Harrisonburg), Ralph Smith (R-22, Botetourt) and Bill Stanley (R-19, Chatham).

Bills Undermining Marriage On Senate Floor This Week!

Tomorrow at noon, the full Senate is scheduled to take up two bills on the floor that would undermine marriage in Virginia and, we believe, may violate Virginia's Marriage Amendment.

Please contact your senator now and urge him or her to vote NO on SB 1121 and SB 1122. To call his or her capitol office, click here. To e-mail him or her, click here.

SB 1121, patroned by Senators Donald McEachin (D-9, Richmond) and Mark Herring (D-33, Leesburg), would permit local governments to extend health and life insurance to "any other person" as agreed to by the insurer and the local government. Included in "any other person" would be domestic partnerships between non-married hetero- and homosexual couples. In essence, this bill creates domestic partner benefits for local government employees.

A second bill, SB 1122, also patroned by Senator McEachin, would allow the state to expand benefits in state government to cover domestic partners. The fiscal impact statement done by the state admits this saying the bill . . .

could create an increase in costs paid by state agencies, state employees, and retired state employees under the state employee health insurance plan. The provisions of this bill may allow coverage to be offered to extended family members and other non-related individuals not currently covered.

The cost to the state (and consequently the taxpayer) to these bills may not be determinable by the state, but we can guarantee that the creation of this new entitlement will be extraordinarily costly for you and your family. At a time when the state can't even pay its full commitment to Virginia Retirement System and is struggling to make ends meet, the Virginia Senate is about to pass legislation that will bury the state in insurance costs.

While the legislation is "permissive," and doesn’t require that benefits be offered, this legislation is obviously the next step in the progression toward domestic partner benefits in Virginia. The long-term consequence of this legislative track goes beyond finances to a threat to religious liberty. Eventually, private employers will be forced to provide these benefits against their will in order to be eligible for government contracts. We have seen this progression elsewhere and many other states are eliminating faith-based providers from contracting with them for this reason.

According to the state constitution:

Nor shall this Commonwealth or its political subdivisions create or recognize another union, partnership, or other legal status to which is assigned the rights, benefits, obligations, qualities, or effects of marriage.

Insurance long has been recognized as a benefit of marriage in our Commonwealth. This legislation would create a "class of persons" and assign them a benefit of marriage.

Respond To Governor Kaine's Same-Sex Benefits Proposal

Winning elections is one thing. But the real work is the constant vigil to ensure that those who got elected follow through on their promises and platforms. With a sweep of pro-family statewide officials and a wider majority in the House of Delegates after November’s election, it would be easy to sit back and watch. However, late last week Governor Tim Kaine (contact), already intent on creating mischief  for the incoming administration by proposing tax increases in the new budget he will introduce before he exits office, lobbed a grenade into the room when he announced his intention to expand health care benefits for state employees to include not only same-sex partners, but anyone living in a house with a state worker. A peculiar legacy indeed, but he's leaving office as he came in — promoting tax increases and special rights for homosexuals just as he did in his first week in office, despite campaigning to the contrary. Already, the state’s largest homosexual "rights" lobby, Equality Virginia, is actively promoting the change.

While expanding benefits to same-sex relationships is a clear violation of the Marriage Amendment passed by Virginia voters just three years ago, it is obvious that Governor Kaine has no intention to abide by it. Currently, only spouses and children are eligible for state health care benefits. Because these types of benefits have traditionally been "benefits of marriage," expanding beyond marriage violates both the spirit and the language of the Marriage Amendment. Health benefits have been tied to marriage for decades because the state understands it has a compelling interest in benefitting and encouraging marriage —ultimately because children benefit the most from marriage. As the vast majority understood in 2006 when 2.1 million of us voted in favor of the Marriage Amendment, we need to protect and elevate traditional marriage for our children’s sake.

Attempts at expanding this beyond marriage makes any and all relationships equal to marriage, thereby undermining that foundational institution. Interestingly, the "Notice of Intended Regulatory Action Agency Background Document" that announces the regulation change makes several astonishing claims, such as saying the proposal "should have little impact on the family or family stability."

Really? By allowing non-married couples the identical benefits as those who are married, does that not make marriage less necessary? The notice also claims that the only "alternative" to the proposal is nationalized health care, such as the current Congressional proposals.

Kaine’s plan, as proposed, borders on the ludicrous. It would seemingly allow a recent college graduate who gets a job with the state to add any and all of his or her housemates to his or her health insurance.

One of the most influential proponents of this type of domestic partner benefits has been the presidents of Virginia’s taxpayer funded colleges and universities, claiming that they can’t bring qualified professors to our college campuses because other states offer such benefits. Yet, only 16 other states currently offer such benefits.

While the proposed benefit expansion will ultimately be decided upon by Governor-elect Bob McDonnell, who expressed reservations about it due to possible costs, proponents of the policy claim that there will be no cost to the state. However, such an expansion of benefits, certainly will increase the cost of health insurance for the state and consequently, Virginia taxpayers.

But don't think you can't do anything about this: There is a public comment period until midnight December 23, where the Department of Human Resources Management is seeking your opinion.

Please contact the Department of Human Resources Management by clicking here. 

Once on the site, click "Enter a comment" and express your opposition to Governor Kaine’s proposal.

Told You So: VEA-NEA Say "I Do" To Same-Sex Marriage

Last week, we posted a commentary that related a breaking national news story to a previous post about two Family Life Education reforms we helped get passed and signed into law, and which took effect July 1. The national news story concerned the National Education Association convention, at which it and its member chapters — including the Virginia Education Association — considered adopting a resolution supporting homosexual marriage. Now, it's official. The NEA and its VEA subsidiary voted to endorse the resolution supporting national and state efforts to enact same-sex marriage, civil unions and domestic partner benefits. But the VEA Web site omits this resolution, while listing issues such as "reducing the dropout rates, properly managing charter schools, controlling infectious diseases in schools, providing resources for boosting teacher quality, protecting substitute teachers, and expanding opportunities for preschool education."

Apparently, when VEA delegation leaders were asked to support a resolution that took no position on same-sex marriage issues, they refused, saying that teachers in Virginia know the issues the VEA is involved with and support them.

Aside from this obnoxious presumption, this means every public school teacher member of the VEA is sending his or her dues money to efforts to bring homosexual-sex marriage to our nation and commonwealth, despite the clear decisions by the General Assembly and Virginia voters to protect marriage. (Remember, homosexual marriage is banned in Virginia by statute and the constitution.)

This latest NEA/VEA absurdity follows a long history of extremist liberal advocacy. Last fall the VEA made news when it urged teachers to participate in "Obama Blue Day" and encouraged voting age students to vote for Barack Obama for president.

It doesn't have to be this way. Pro-family teachers in Virginia have an alternative professional organization that provides similar resources as the VEA — some even better  — without the embarrassing political baggage:

Virginia Professional Educators offers better insurance policies and other benefits without supporting liberal causes and candidates. In fact, it doesn't support causes or candidates.

So, if you are a teacher who feels forced, coerced or peer-pressured to join or remain a member of the VEA, we urge you to look into VPE.

The only way to ensure the VEA is unsuccessful is to defund it. In several states, alternative teacher organizations affiliated with VPE have more members than those states' NEA branches.

As long as teachers continue to send dues to the VEA, they will hire the 40-plus lobbyists they send to Richmond every General Assembly session (not to mention allied organizations and educrat establishment), where they undermine school choice efforts, push for higher taxes, and seek to promote abortion and destroy marriage, rather than advocate for better education.

If you are a teacher, we implore you to either demand the VEA cease to advocate for these extreme causes or join an alternative organization. Last week we wrote this about the impending vote to support homosexual marriage at the NEA convention:

Not exactly what most parents expect from teachers. Most expect them to educate their children. Not indoctrinate them. If, in fact, the NEA goes on record supporting this nonsense, we will watch with a very interested eye as to how its Virginia members treat the new FLE marriage curriculum and whether the administration enforces its implementation as the law now says.

As you can see, we've already started. We hope all fair minded teachers will do the same.