Waymon Hudson

No Doggone Rights for You

Filed By Waymon Hudson | November 25, 2007 11:24 AM | comments

Filed in: Politics
Tags: animal rights, domestic partner benefits, insurance, Palm Beach, pets, Rick Santorum

It’s another example of where our community’s relationships rate in the opinions of some people.

Palm Beach Community College in South Florida has approved a discounted group medical plan for employee’s pets. Sounds nice, right? It is, until you look at the fact that last August the PBCC trustees voted down a proposal for domestic partnership benefits.

That’s right, folks. The college thinks that pets deserve insurance coverage, but people don’t. Actually, that’s not exactly true. They don’t think pets are more important than all people- just LGBT people in committed relationships. We rank somewhere below dogs, cats, hedgehogs, frogs, guinea pigs, geckos, and iguanas (all of which are covered by the insurance plan).

Don’t get me wrong, I’m a huge animal lover (not in the gross, Rick Santorum “slippery slope” way, I mean, I just love my puppies…). But I also love my partner and think we both deserve basic rights like medical coverage.

Maybe I should marry a goat, like the nut-jobs on the religious right claim we all want. At least that way I can get insurance.


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Twisted priorities are the hallmark of local government. This is one ludicrous example among many, eh?

Michael Crawford Michael Crawford | November 25, 2007 12:24 PM

Does anyone need another reason to get angry and demand full equality under the law?

This is nuts.

I agree. This is completely nuts. When people would rather offer health benefits to animals than gay people, it shows just how low our community ranks in this society.

The fact that pet health insurance even exists in a country that doesn't provide health care to all humans, whether they're in a sexual relationship or not, puts millions of dogs and cats to sleep every year because there aren't enough homes to go around, and produces millions more animals just to slaughter and make into food shows an utter disconnect between the reality that surrounds this country's power brokers and the realities that don't.

This probably is a result of a lot more employees having pets than having same-sex partners without health care from another source. That's the morality of the free market!

In an area possessing a large Cuban American population, along with increasing Venezuelan and Colombian populations, this treatment towards gay couples comes as no surprise. A majority of this demographic is conservative-inclined for various reason, mainly because of a traumatic encounter with communist governments and these people's projections of this image on any slightly left-based government systems, no matter how false these projections are (it is rather difficult to tell a person who lost his/her home country-- probably separated from his family-- to discard his/her paranoia over communist potentials on a Democrat-controlled legislature), and also because this demographic is far more religious and strictly structured than other demographics.

In this case, we're talking about a religious issue in the form of members the community following and enforcing the ideas that the Catholic church and Pope Maledict promote. Take for example, Daniel Shoer Roth, a more or less accepted editor in the widely read El Nuevo Herald. He comes out in his column, and people seem to receive it well, no use in keeping a gay man closeted in these times, not to mention more fodder for spicing up daily discussions with colorful words such as "maricon," "mamahuevo," and "pajaro." He subsequently writes a column in support of equality for same-sex couples, and the outrage takes little time to arrive.

Examples like these show that we have a conflict of interests in the form of immigration policy and LGBT-friendly legislation. With an increasing Hispanic population in this country, declaring that near 2010 Hispanics will become the largest racial minority, we have future challenges on passing LGBT-friendly legislation as a more conservative demographic achieves political power. Do we try to educate them? Would it be morally wrong to support more restrictive immigration policies o such grounds? Is it possible to educate a demographic that often follows religious leaders over political ones? What about increasing hate crimes? Will they respect the separation of church and state, or will they be joining the Religious Right in its "anti-communist" endeavors?

I'm a weakling by some people's standards: I do not want to bother with educating members of my own community. I fled from Venezuela in hopes of escaping the very same type of society that has taken a hold on Miami and is taking hold of other places. I might find myself pressed to emigrate to friendlier states if the trends continue to be this way. The U.S. has so much potential for a free and open-minded society; I would prefer if its progress was not stagnated by immigrants that are millenniums behind on social issues.

As for how do I feel to have other species above me legally? The same as with having other human beings above me. Last time I checked, humans are not in possession of any privilege over other species in he eyes of nature. Label me psychotic for believing that purposely killing other animals should bear the same sentences as killing other human beings, but I believe that trying to establish different values for different type of lives in order to construct some shred of respect for the concept of life is patently hypocritical.

Yes, yes, Lucrece, blame the latinos for a policy decision at a college that's 15% hispanic/latino of any national origin according to their own stats located in a town that's less than 3% latino/hispanic of any origin according to the 2000 census. Yeppers, it's their fault!

Countries where latinos are now mostly coming from - Mexico, not Cuba - actually have a strong tradition of separation of church and state. Mexico doesn't allow the Church to own property, sign marriage certificates, or even to be free from government interference. The people who are coming here are definitely religious, but they're also more likely to be progressive than their American counterparts.

Is it possible to educate a demographic that often follows religious leaders over political ones?

I dunno, but we seem to have done a good job with white Americans who'd much rather follow Dr. Dobson, Pat Robertson, or Jerry Falwell than their political leaders. My anglo grandmother effectively tithes to Robertson's 700 Club and has a life-size poster of GWB in her house, and yet we've managed to change the way things are around here.

that are millenniums behind on social issues.

Seriously, mellennia? Ummmmmm... so they're at the time of Jesus? Who really didn't have a problem with the homos? Or the Greeks, who really liked the same-sex lovin'? And there is a lot more progress going on in Latin American countries than the US in terms of partner recognition. Yes, there's a lot of work that still needs to be done, but one could say the same about here. I just don't know what any of this has to do with the decision at PBCC.

And, in the end, they tend to vote Democrat. Which is really the most we've come to expect straight people of any race to do. And that's not about to change any time soon as the GOP continues to pander to Nativist sentiment.

I completely agree with Alex, Lucrece. The college talked about in West Palm Beach is in one of the few areas in South Florida that does not have a large Latino population. And the schools in areas that do have already adopted domestic partnership rights (like Broward Community College, Miami Dade College, Florida Keys Community College and Hillsborough Community College, University of Miami, Nova Southeastern University and Florida International University, just to name a few...). I'm not sure what the Latino population has to do with the decision at PBCC at all.

Do we try to educate them? Would it be morally wrong to support more restrictive immigration policies on such grounds?

I also think the idea that we shouldn't bother to try to educate any group is wrong. It's attitudes like that really hurt our community.

Examples like these show that we have a conflict of interests in the form of immigration policy and LGBT-friendly legislation. With an increasing Hispanic population in this country, declaring that near 2010 Hispanics will become the largest racial minority, we have future challenges on passing LGBT-friendly legislation as a more conservative demographic achieves political power.

And to somehow link the rise in the Hispanic population to anti-gay legislation is kind of ridiculous. The last time I checked, our government was run by old, white, protestant men (or as they are more commonly known, the Republicans…). That’s where our problem lies, not in a minority that given the time and education about LGBT issues might just see similarities in the problems facing them.

But again, this really has little if nothing to do with the decision at Palm Beach Community College. That’s about bias and bigotry against same-sex relationships, plain and simple.

"Yes, yes, Lucrece, blame the latinos for a policy decision at a college that's 15% hispanic/latino of any national origin according to their own stats located in a town that's less than 3% latino/hispanic of any origin according to the 2000 census. Yeppers, it's their fault!

Countries where latinos are now mostly coming from - Mexico, not Cuba - actually have a strong tradition of separation of church and state. Mexico doesn't allow the Church to own property, sign marriage certificates, or even to be free from government interference. The people who are coming here are definitely religious, but they're also more likely to be progressive than their American counterparts."

I take it you have very little knowledge of the leading political forces in Florida, much less of the actual influences certain demographics exert on certain areas. What highlights your ignorance, however, is the laughable claims you make that the dominant nationality in Florida is that of Mexicans, not Cubans. Seriously, though, Alex, besides acting in a caricature-like manner with common outbursts of spouting, in layman's terms, bullshit, lay down your experience of Florida life and, for that matter, any actual interaction with a representative sample of an actual Hispanic community.

I'll find you hard-pressed to do so. Call me cynical, but I find a source that interprets Hispanics as a race instead of an ethnicity category as a rather dubious source.

Furthermore, as to petty examples of South American legislation, let me tell you a little secret as to how Latin American governments work their laws: They seldom enforcement. Of course, I wouldn't expect your faraway sheltered self to comprehend the concept of how easily the law in such countries is disregarded, where degrees, tickets, and all other sorts of inconveniences can be dealt with with a generous sum of money, the right bloodline, or connections. You see, it's not only about whether there are laws are there in South America; it's whether people choose to accept them or not. Then again, most Americans tend to cling on to the fallacious assumption that people play by the rules, as it most often works in the U.S.

"I dunno, but we seem to have done a good job with white Americans who'd much rather follow Dr. Dobson, Pat Robertson, or Jerry Falwell than their political leaders. My anglo grandmother effectively tithes to Robertson's 700 Club and has a life-size poster of GWB in her house, and yet we've managed to change the way things are around here."

These "white Americans" you speak of took the step of separating Church and State under the constitution in ages before countries like Mexico actually achieved true independence. They took unimaginable steps to root out persecution in the Constitution's design whereas South American countries still struggled with Caudillismo and gross political corruption. We do have deranged individuals trying to degrade the essence of the Constitution, correct; however, the laws actually allow for some kind of vindication whenever one of us is victimized. Do you believe the same of Mexico? Do you have any family living there?

"Seriously, mellennia? Ummmmmm... so they're at the time of Jesus? Who really didn't have a problem with the homos? Or the Greeks, who really liked the same-sex lovin'? And there is a lot more progress going on in Latin American countries than the US in terms of partner recognition. Yes, there's a lot of work that still needs to be done, but one could say the same about here. I just don't know what any of this has to do with the decision at PBCC.

And, in the end, they tend to vote Democrat. Which is really the most we've come to expect straight people of any race to do. And that's not about to change any time soon as the GOP continues to pander to Nativist sentiment."

I take it you're hyperbole-blind, no need to respond to your first set of nonsensical responses.

As for the Greeks, my, you need to pay closer attention to your Gay History lessons. The Greeks did not condone what we today define as gay relationships. If two men were near the same age and of the same social station, they would be ridiculed for loving each other. In fact, the catamite in the relationship was likely to be ostracized. They saw the sexual relationship between the erastes and the eromenos as just another facet of the mentoring relationship. Ultimately, the youth was expected to grow out of the relationship and get married. Same-gender sexual relations were not so much scorned by the Greeks as a result of their open-mindedness but rather as a result of their warped sexist notions. If you cannot detect the sexist diatribe present in many of these philosopher's justifications for homosexuality, then I don't know what to tell you. Just to give you perspective on the Greeks' view of homosexuality, you and any relationship you involve yourself with according to your modern standards will be an object of ridicule by the Greeks.

You also seem to count a select small number of countries to base your claims of South American evolution on. I'd like it if you actually used a representative sample of the Latin American community. If you want to talk about ethnic races on progression, the Anglo and Nordic people don't do so bad, if not better than Hispanics. Even then, the only Spanish-speaking country, Spain, a great example of social progress on a heavily religious country, is not considered Hispanic.

"And, in the end, they tend to vote Democrat. Which is really the most we've come to expect straight people of any race to do. And that's not about to change any time soon as the GOP continues to pander to Nativist sentiment."

Cuban Americans, the Hispanic demographic I was talking about, actually votes mostly Republican. Venezuelans and Colombians do too. Big surprise, considering the new High School they've constructed at Doral, the new center for Venezuelans, Argentinians, Colombians, and Cubans is named Ronald Reagan Senior High School.

Mexicans, the majority demographic for Hispanic nationalities represented in the U.S., is the one to be mainly Democratic, and this is only because of Republicans have scorned illegal immigration reforms. Put the Republicans on agreement with Mexicans on agreement concerning immigration reforms, and you will see how they flock to the Republican party once they notice how the evil Democrats push for the separation of their beloved Virgin of Guadalupe from their children's education in public schools. See how these Mexican fathers will feel when they notice the Democrats supporting feminist agenda that will make their precious daughters more sexually liberal, stop cooking and cleaning for them, and telling their "varones" that being a "marica" is OK. Besides the South's xenophobic obsession with immigrants, the Southern white homophobes and Hispanics are more similar than you would be willing to concede.

As for expectations: Had the Iraq war not happened under the Republicans, you'd see that a majority of straight people would, in fact, vote Republican in our current time. Things are not that much better from before. ENDA and the Matthew Sheppard Act seem to be experiencing the old adage of "history tends to repeat itself." Don't expect to see significant change for at least 20 years. The younger (and more liberal, thanks to that corrosive, evil, atheist media!) generations will have to substitute the older ones before we see any substantial change. Education in school regarding LGBT issues will have to actually exist.

We have a long way to go, but my home country of Venezuela and its kind are still ways off from where we are. I suggest that when you get tired of eating champignons, a.k.a. Mmmushrooms, over there, that you actually go and live for a while in a Latin American country so that you have some experience to back up your vacuous claims of knowledge over the "latino" community.

Waymon, I said that a rise in the Hispanic population might stagnate our progress, not revert it through anti-gay legislation.

"I also think the idea that we shouldn't bother to try to educate any group is wrong. It's attitudes like that really hurt our community."

You'll have to deal with the fact that there are groups that know the facts but will not act on them, rather preferring to stick to unsupported prejudice. I do not bother with educating such groups. I think that educating groups that are questioning, meaning that their position can be moved, is more productive, as we can use those groups to pressure the recalcitrant groups into acquiescence. This is what happens to racists in the South. More powerful entities and industries bully them into suppressing their own racist displays, having to keep their Confederate flags hidden inside their property for their friend-shooting friends to see when they come over to go hunting *wink*.

As for the relation to Hispanics, South Florida has extended Hispanic influences. You will see no other region where being bilingual is almost a requirement. The influence is there, and it would be nice if Hispanic influence on white American culture didn't contribute to cement its already present homophobic and sexist elements.

While I don't subscribe to the rest of Lucrese's comments, I know he's correct on this:

You'll have to deal with the fact that there are groups that know the facts but will not act on them, rather preferring to stick to unsupported prejudice. I do not bother with educating such groups. I think that educating groups that are questioning, meaning that their position can be moved, is more productive, as we can use those groups to pressure the recalcitrant groups into acquiescence.

It's true. There are some people that no matter what you do won't change their position for you. No. Matter. What. So what do you do? You get them to do it for someone else. If that 3rd person is willing to listen to your arguments, even better! It's Politics 101: Never do something yourself that you can get someone else to do for you.

I agree with you, Bil, that some individual people will never change their positions. But writing off an entire group of people by saying we shouldn't try to reach out and educate them about our issues is a huge mistake. It sounds eerily like what our enemies do to the LGBT community -- paint an entire group with one broad, negative stroke.

It's a small difference, Waymon, but it's an important distinction.

You don't have to "paint an entire group with one broad, negative stroke" to face political realities. To win politically you have to focus your efforts into the one place you'll get the biggest bang for your buck. Whether that's voters themselves, legislators or the media, you always have to strategically focus your message.

Some people won't hear your message for anything. So how do you get that message to them in a way that they're willing to listen to? You don't try to educate them yourself. That would take too much time and frustration. Who wants to talk to someone who won't listen?

Instead you find someone that's friendly to your position and you ask that person to do the educating for you if your target values their opinion.

That's not writing them off so much as tailoring the message. And that's an important component of any campaign.

I'm not disagreeing with you at all, Bil. I simply think that a mass, public education campaign, like the one our community needs to do, is very different from a regular political campaign.

It is possible to reach out to just about any group of people if you tailor the message correctly, as you say. But to simply say "we don't need to reach out to that group because they will never agree with us" undermines the education we are trying to do. Ours is a battle that can only be won by engaging groups that don't know or understand LGBT people or our issues.

That is what education campaigns are all about – personal contact between groups that might otherwise not have that interaction.

Waymon, you're stretching my comments. I personally don't feel like educating the same community I fled from myself; that's why some may consider me a weakling, while some won't. If there is someone who wants to face such a task, more power to them; I just feel that my life experience with them has taught me that we'll need to be more indirect to get things done. For example, if we work on the other ethnic demographics that are more willing to communicate, and that they are considered "mainstream Americans," then Hispanic immigrants, always pressured to assimilate into this society, will be pressured to follow despite their want to cling on to past conditioned prejudices.

I'm just advocating for more efficient priorities.

I actually completely understand, Lucrece. I have the same feelings towards the religious community because of my past with them that you have for the Hispanic culture. It is hard to want to reach out to a group that has persecuted and shunned you. It can feel impossible because of personal experience that the group will ever be educated or sensitive to LGBT issues.

It can be said, however, that those of us that have gone through problems with certain communities (Hispanic for you, religious for me) have a better understanding of what approaches may work in moving them in the right direction on LGBT issues. It is something I still struggle with when dealing with organized religion.

With all these comments, I forgot what the post was about in the first place...

Oh yeah. Pets. *grins* Now where is that iguana for me to marry so I can get insurance...