Proposed amendment could block benefits ruling in Alaska

Posted on 16 Feb 2006 at 7:45pm
By Matt Volz


Representative Bob Lynn of Alaska says giving unmarriaged couples equal benefits would diminish the institution of marriage.


Representative who cosponsored resolution in House tells gays’
same-sex partners to “‘Go get health care on your own’

JUNEAU, Alaska An amendment to the state constitution has been introduced in the Alaska Legislature with the aim of overturning a court ruling and banning benefits to the same-sex partners of public employees.

The proposed amendment was one of dozens of bills filed in the days leading to Monday’s deadline for individual lawmakers to introduce legislation.

House Majority Leader John Coghill, a Republican, is sponsoring the Alaska House resolution that would amend the definition of marriage already in the state constitution.

The amendment would read that marriage between a man and a woman is the only union valid in the state “and to which the rights, benefits, obligations, qualities or effects of marriage shall be extended or assigned.”

The Alaska Supreme Court ruled in October that denying gay couples the same public employee benefits as married couples life and health insurance, plus retirement and death benefits violates the Alaska Constitution’s equal-protection clause.

The Senate Judiciary Committee plans to introduce a substantially similar resolution, and a committee hearing has been scheduled for Thursday.

For the constitution to be amended, a resolution must be approved by a two-thirds of the Legislature and by voters in a general election.

Representative Bob Lynn, a Republican, signed the resolution as a co-sponsor. He said he disagreed with the Supreme Court decision because giving the same benefits to unmarried couples would diminish the institution of marriage.

“Go get health care on your own,” Lynn said.

Representative Beth Kerttula, A Democrat, said giving health benefits doesn’t threaten marriage and said she hoped Alaskans would say they don’t need this constitutional amendment.

“Benefits for Alaskans shouldn’t have anything to do with beliefs about marriage,” Kerttula said.

The proposed amendment was introduced Feb. 10. It was one of several measures introduced in an onslaught of last-minute proposals before the Monday morning filing deadline.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition of February 17, 2006.

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