Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Domestic partner benefits article in Monday's Herald-Leader

I was quoted in an article on domestic partner benefits at state universities that ran on the front page of the Lexington Herald-Leader yesterday. There are several things worth commenting on about the article.

First, the article is prefaced by one of the anecdotal stories that are characteristic of much of the media treatment of this issue: namely, a heart-rending story about someone with a dread disease who won't get treated unless such a policy is pursued. I doubt if we will ever see an article from the Herald-Leader that will tell a similar story of a live-in blood relative who won't be getting medical treatment under the proposed UK domestic partner plan.

The second interesting thing about the article is Gov. Fletcher's weak response to reporters' questions on this issue. "I will have to evaluate that," he said. "We have left these decisions to the university boards." The Governor has already passed up a chance to take a position on the casino gambling issue. If he fails also to take a position on the domestic partner benefits issue, conservative are going to have to start asking what this governor has done for them lately. There are only so many times a political leader can pass up the opportunity to lead on something before he will start having face questions from his base about whether he has any leadership ability at all.

The third thing is this: it is always interesting to see, after talking with a reporter for an hour on an issue (as I did), which comment he chooses to print. In this case, it was my response to the idea (proffered by the reporter) that universities might want to be in a good position to recruit gays because gays are more "creative" than heterosexuals. My response, of course, was that I would like to see the evidence on that.

What is interesting about this is that if you made this claim about any other demographic group, you would probably be laughed out of polite society. Would you ever ask this question about whites as opposed to blacks? Or men has opposed to women? How far are we away from Lawrence Summers being turned out of his job as president of Harvard University for postulating that men may be more capable at mathematics than women?

I have heard it said that who are emotionally disturbed are more creative because of their psychological condition. Maybe we could try to recruit more psychologically disturbed people to staff the chairs of higher learning at our schools.

Is there someone at the universities who is proposing that gays are more creative that heterosexuals as a reason for recruiting them? If so, things are worse than at our universities than I thought (and that's saying a lot).

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