Sarah Palin, the newly elected Republican Governor of Alaska, has issued her first veto one month into her term. She vetoed a bill that would have blocked gays and lesbians from health and other benefits provided to state workers's domestic partners.
The Alaska Supreme Court issued a ruling last year requiring that the state offer benefits to all state workers. The previous Governor called the legislature to a special session to approve a plan his administration had worked out.
The legislature, however, had other ideas. Instead of easily passing the benefits plan, they instead passed two (unconstitutional) bills. HB 4001 would have prohibited the state commissioner from taking action by the court's deadline. HB 4002 would have set up a nonbinding vote on whether citizens believe the state should put a constitutional amendment to thwart the court's ruling on the 2008 ballot. One legislator, Representative Mike Coghill, is such a bigot that he's proposing that all state employees should lose their benefits so those benefits don't have to be extended to domestic partners.
Palin vetoed HB 4001. Before you get too excited, she signed HB 4002 - to put benefits up to a non-binding vote of the people. Palin also stated that while she believed in HB 4001, her advisors had told her it was unconstitutional. Rather than go through the court costs, she vetoed the bill. Yeah, she's no ally.
So how pathetic is it that health benefits are being fought over this hard? Pathetic, just pathetic. I can't imagine that the government of Alaska is that big to start with - how many LGBT folks with partners that don't have their own insurance can there really be? It's not like we're talking about a lottery pay-out sized expense...
"It is the Governor's intention to work with the legislature and to give the people of Alaska an opportunity to express their wishes and intentions whether these benefits should continue," the statement from Palin's administration said.
On Dec. 20, Palin signed a bill that calls for an advisory vote on whether there should be a constitutional amendment denying benefits to same-sex couples. The vote, set for a special election on April 3, will be nonbinding but is intended to help guide legislators, Palin has said.