By L.A. Williams, Correspondent
Christian Action League
ASHEVILLE — Within a month the Asheville City Council may approve a plan to extend employment benefits, including health insurance, to the partners of homosexual workers. Council voted 4-2 Tuesday (Feb. 9) to have staff take a look at how much the move would cost and give a recommendation on March 9.
“We would hope that any research about health costs would reveal the truth about this high-risk lifestyle,” said the Rev. Mark Creech, executive director of the Christian Action League. “Even if it didn’t cost taxpayers a penny, it would still be wrong. But studies clearly show that people who practice these types of sexual behaviors put themselves at greater risk for a number of illnesses.”
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced late last summer that AIDS is 50 times more prevalent among men who have sex with men than the rest of the population. A 2007 study showed homosexual men with HIV are 90 times more likely to develop anal cancer than others. And even the Gay and Lesbian Medical Association admits that lesbians have higher risks for cervical cancers and obesity and use more tobacco and illicit drugs than do other women. Further, a 2008 study in the United Kingdom showed homosexuals are 50 percent more likely to suffer from depression. Not surprisingly, research shows that the lifespan of a homosexual is on average 20 years shorter than that of a heterosexual.
“Is this the kind of high-risk behavior that we, as a society, want to encourage and set up as equal to marriage? Make no mistake about it, government policies of this nature normalize homosexual behavior, thereby harming the institution of natural marriage, children, adults, and homosexuals themselves.” the Rev. Creech said.
As part of his presentation at Tuesday’s meeting Council member Gordon Smith referenced Charlotte Mecklenburg’s expectation of just a 1 percent increase in costs. Mecklenburg approved same-sex partner benefits two months ago.
However, according to a 2002 report from the Corporate Resource Council, most estimates of health-care costs for domestic partners are “either unreliable or outright guesswork because they ignore the disproportionate number of high-risk people enrolling in the benefits program and the increased medical costs associated with same-sex couples.”
“Given the millions of uninsured persons in the United States, the ease of entering domestic partnerships and obtaining health-care benefits, the number of gay men with HIV/AIDS, and the increased risk of additional diseases for other gays, lesbians and bisexuals, it is reasonable to estimate that a significant number of domestic partners will have known, high-risk health conditions when they join a domestic partnership health-care plan,” the report shows.
Opponents of Smith’s proposal told the council Tuesday night it was an endorsement of gay marriage and a bad use of taxpayer funds, especially while the city faces a $5 million deficit. They also said it would be hard to administer. According to the proposal, homosexual employees would register their same-sex significant others with the city declaring that they are each other’s “sole domestic partner,” agreeing to be responsible for each other’s welfare and promising to notify the town of any change in the status of their domestic partnership.
“But this idea of a ‘sole domestic partner’ is often not the case with homosexuals,” quipped Rev. Creech. “Recent research from a San Francisco State University study previewed by the New York Times notes that half of all homosexual couples have sex outside of their relationships with the approval of their partner. Why the city would want to subsidize this kind of behavior when it makes no contribution to the city is not only immoral, but irresponsible government.”
Smith said that extending benefits to homosexual partners would not only help recruit and retain employees but also increase gay and lesbian tourism. “In other words, it would draw a larger pool of homosexual lovers to the city for both work and play,” said Rev. Creech. “The average number of partners for a heterosexual couple is four, but for a homosexual it’s fifty. Is this a practice that ought to be the basis for drawing new workers and tourism to a great city like Asheville? This kind of liberalism is a form of madness.”
According to his presentation, benefits would include medical, dental, vision, cancer, accident and life insurance, prescription coverage, bereavement leave, family and medical leave. He did not suggest offering unmarried heterosexual couples the same benefits because he said “same-sex couples are not capable of accessing benefits available to opposite-sex couples,” and “the cost of implementation will be lower if targeting only same-sex couples.”
His presentation said “personal religious views are not a valid basis for denying some municipal employees the benefits that are provided to other employees.”
“This is the most absurd argument in favor of domestic partner benefits,” said Rev. Creech. “In fact, if the government cannot pass public policies based on religious teaching, then all criminal laws would have to be overturned because they are all in some way consistent with at least one of the Ten Commandments. Furthermore, since some churches support same-sex relationships, then I suppose we ought not to put the pro-homosexual position into law either, right?”
Smith was joined by Cecil Bothwell, Esther Manheimer and Vice Mayor Brownie Newman in voting for the controversial measure. Mayor Terry Bellamy and Jan Davis opposed it; and Councilman Bill Russell was absent. The next vote, expected to follow the staff’s March 9 presentation, could put domestic partner benefits in place for same sex couples starting in 2011.
Besides Charlotte-Mecklenburg, other Tar Heel jurisdictions that promote the homosexual lifestyle include the cities of Chapel Hill, Carrboro, Durham and Greensboro as well as Durham and Orange counties.