Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Florida, the state's largest health insurer, has come out harshly against Florida's Amendment 2- the dangerous and deceptive "Marriage Protection" Amendment. The vague language of the amendment has many in Florida worried- both gay and heterosexual- that domestic partnership benefits could be repealed, much like what has happened in other states with similar amendments.
That led Randy Kammer, an attorney and vice president for regulatory affairs and public policy for Blue Cross/Blue Shield, to say this in the St. Petersburg Times:
It's going to have a major impact on our ability to provide benefits for domestic partners, and we're opposed to anything that gets in the way of providing benefits.
In 2004, Michigan passed a ban similar to what is being proposed in Florida. In May, Michigan's Supreme Court decided that the ban prevents local governments, schools and universities from offering partner benefits- if the benefits call attention to same-sex relationships.
That's where the dangerous language in Florida's Amendment 2 comes in to play. The amendment uses the term "substantial equivalent thereof", which is not defined and therefore could have far-reaching ramifications. Conservative groups, many of which are backing Amendment 2, are already starting challenges to municipalities' domestic partnership benefits. The Florida Family Association started laying the groundwork earlier this year to challenge same-sex partner benefits offered to Tampa city employees.
It isn't hard to see where the backers of this amendment want this to go. The proponents of the Michigan amendment claimed the same thing that Florida supporters do- that it doesn't affect domestic partnerships. Then, those very same people turned around and challenged Michigan law and stripped away the rights and benefits of thousands of couples.
The backers of this dangerous amendment will not rest until they strip away all the benefits- hospital visitations, end-of-life decision making, health insurance, and many others benefits- from committed couples in Florida. The insurance companies, like Blue Cross and Blue Shield, recognize this danger and are saying NO.
We cannot allow this Trojan horse of an amendment to pass. Make sure to visit www.SayNo2.com to get involved- give money, volunteer, and spread the word!