Wednesday, June 24, 2009

June 24 show recap: Domestic partner benefits for federal employees and solidarity with undocumented immigrants

We spoke with Cindy Bruenig, a local queer activist who also works with the civil and labor rights organization Voces de la Frontera (Voices of the Frontier), about the connection between LGBT and immigrant rights. Bruenig has drafted a letter thanking the Wisconsin legislature for its decision to include domestic partnership protections in this year's state budget, and asking state senators who voted for domestic partnership benefits -- but against driving cards and in-state tuition for long-term resident undocumented immigrants -- to reconsider their stance on on the latter issues before the budget is finalized. Bruenig said that both the LGBT and immigrant communities have frequently been exploited as scapegoats by politicians and that we should therefore work to protect each other.

A copy of the letter is posted on the web site of the political action committee One Wisconsin Now. Bruenig invited listeners to sign onto it and contact their representatives.

We also talked with Jennifer Chrisler, executive director of the Family Equality Council, about President Obama's executive memorandum that extends some benefits to some federal employees and their same-sex partners. These include allowing executive branch employees in the civil service to use disability and sick leave to take care of a partner or non-biological childre; providing housing, medical and emergency evacua; and allowing same-sex partners of executive branch employees to opt in on long-term care insurance. Missing, however, were pension or health benefits for same-sex partners.

Chrisler said that the LGBT community must continue to put pressure on Obama and Congress to repeal the Defense of Marriage Act, which bars the federal government from recognizing the same-sex marriages that have been legally performed in several states, and the military's "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy, which has led to the discharge of numerous openly gay service members. She asked listeners to send their personal stories about how current anti-gay policies impact their lives policies to the president via Family Equality's website.

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