Texas Bill Would Punish LGBT-Friendly Schools

Two wingnut Republicans in the Texas legislature have filed a bill, HB 1568, to punish any public school in the state that dares to offer equal benefits to gay employees and their partners. The punishment would be a loss of 7.5% of their state funding. Here’s the text of the bill:

Sec. 42.2532. ADJUSTMENT FOR DISTRICTS OFFERING BENEFITS TO NONDEPENDENTS.

(a) In this section, “dependent” has the meaning assigned by Section 1551.004, Insurance Code.

(b) If a school district offers insurance benefits or other benefits to a person other than a district employee or a dependent of a district employee, the commissioner shall, notwithstanding any other provision of this title:

(1) reduce by 7.5 percent the amounts due to the district under this chapter and Chapter 46; or

(2) increase by 7.5 percent the amounts necessary for the district to comply with the requirements of Chapter 41.

The bill has quickly gained 28 co-sponsors. The primary author of the bill, Rep. Drew Springer, explained the purpose of the bill:

SPRINGER: Our tax-dollars are for educating kids, not for enacting policies that attempt to get the state to recognize homosexual relationships. To think Pflugerville has sued the state for more funding, while at the same time bankrolling a lifestyle most Texans do not agree with is quite disturbing to me.

In other words: “Gays is bad people and we must keep them unequal at all costs.”

22 comments on this post.
  1. steve84:

    Small government at work again

  2. Sastra:

    At first glance I read your title as “Texas Bill Would Push LGBT-Friendly Schools” and — since it was Texas — assumed that some legislator wanted to create special schools for gay people. A grim prospect. But the word “friendly” puzzled me … and then I re-read it. Oh.

  3. eric:

    Here is the code in question.

    To make some lemonade out of the lemons, the code just says “spouse” with no qualifiers about sex. So the moment the legal definiton of spouse changes – either fedrally or in Texas – the 7.5% cut won’t affect gay spouses.

  4. roggg:

    Since when do public employees and their families have to live lifestyles approved of by a majority of citizens? You pay them a compensation package including salaries and benefits, and then they use their compensation to live whatever lifestyle they choose so long as it doesn’t violate the public trust. Just because taxes pay the bill, doesn’t mean you get a say in how they spend it.

  5. Phillip IV:

    While depressing overall, I guess you could see it as a good sign that they can’t even keep individual school districts in Texas in line anymore, without resorting to pressure.

  6. Gregory in Seattle:

    This shit is why we desperately need a comprehensive shooting down of the Denial of Marriage Act by the Supreme Court. Once it is established that married is married, a state will not be allowed to give perqs to some married couples but not others.

  7. timberwoof:

    Since when do public employees and their families have to live lifestyles approved of by a majority of citizens?

    Ever since it’s “our money” that we’re giving them. Plenty of people think that the government should be able to micromanage government employee salaries, unemployment compensation, and welfare payments.

  8. Modusoperandi:

    It’s about time! Gayhomos in Texas have had it too good for too long! And every time, they come back asking for more! First they “ask” for the so-called “right” to not be jailed for having hot, gay man-on-man gay mansex in the so-called “privacy” of their own homes! Now they want us Totally Not-Gay Americans to reward them with huge publicly-funded family benefits for their deviant lifestyle? I could understand if they were in long-term monogamous relationships, or if they were raising children of their own, but if they were I would ignore that thing I said earlier in this sentence and find some other rationalization for so-called “mistreating” them!

  9. glodson:

    The Texas GOP. They aren’t content with just being seen as bigoted assholes. They want to prove that they are bigoted assholes. The biggest bigoted assholes. Cause everything is bigger in Texas.

  10. composer99:

    roggg:

    I think we are largely in agreement (as indeed we probably are with the outstanding majority of readers of Dispatches). That said, I would appreciate if you could clarify what is meant by “and then they use their compensation to live whatever lifestyle they choose so long as it doesn’t violate the public trust”.

    Religious authoritarians might interpret being openly LGBT as “violating the public trust”, so I suspect you have a more stringent definition of the phrase.

  11. erichoug:

    I think that eric above hits it on the head. If same sex marriage is ever approved nationwide then this code automatically covers same sex partners.

    Again, I am always amazed that once you start treating everyone equally things start to get very simple.

    BTW, glad Y’all are enjoying another round of Texas bashing.

  12. eric:

    roggg:

    You pay them a compensation package including salaries and benefits, and then they use their compensation to live whatever lifestyle they choose so long as it doesn’t violate the public trust

    It matters because of the way the US manages the health care system; compensation isn’t perfectly fungible when it comes to health care. AIUI, with employer coverage, an insurance company has to take you. You have an access to system plans a self-employed or unemployed person may not have, no matter how much money they have, because to them the insurance company can just say “nope, we’re not going to cover condition x, we consider it pre-existing.” So there is a legitimate legal issue related to health coverage access that is separate from compensation.

    If health care costs were more monetarily fungible it probably wouldn’t matter as much. Then you’d be right – you just give the employee a package and let them decide who to cover under their health insurance policy. The banks can’t (or wouldn’t) stop me from opening a savings account for you, even if we aren’t related. But Kaiser or Aetna or Blue Cross can and would prevent me from adding you to my plan. That difference is why the definition of ‘related’ matters as an issue entirely separate from ‘does the public approve of how I spend my salary.’

  13. cptdoom:

    As I understand most of these partner benefits, either the employee pays for their partner to be on the plan, so no additional cost to the district, or the partner has to pay income tax on the cost of the benefit to their partner, as additional income, so the state gets extra tax money.

  14. shouldbeworking:

    I showed the OP to a group of teachers at the teachers’ convention I’m attending. The reaction ranged from”typical rethuglicans” to laughter to ” just how narrow minded and bigoted can some people get?”.

    As my dad used to say ” no one is completely useless, they can always be used as a warning to others”.

  15. Ichthyic:

    To make some lemonade out of the lemons, the code just says “spouse” with no qualifiers about sex. So the moment the legal definiton of spouse changes – either fedrally or in Texas – the 7.5% cut won’t affect gay spouses.

    uh, dude, that’s not lemonade…

  16. Ichthyic:

    If same sex marriage is ever approved nationwide then this code automatically covers same sex partners.

    please tell us what this means:

    In this section, “dependent” has the meaning assigned by Section 1551.004, Insurance Code.

    who functions as a dependent under this code, and how is it determined?

  17. Gvlgeologist, FCD:

    The sheer mean-spiritedness of the homophobes never fails to astonish me.

  18. gratch:

    Ahhh Republicans: “Representing the public by persecuting a small percentage of them.”

  19. eric:

    Ichthyc @16:

    please tell us what this means:

    In this section, “dependent” has the meaning assigned by Section 1551.004, Insurance Code.

    Ic, it was right there in the link I gave, in @3. Very first line – all you had to do was click. But okay, here it is:

    1551.004. DEFINITION OF DEPENDENT. (a) In this
    chapter, “dependent” with respect to an individual eligible to
    participate in the group benefits program under Section 1551.101 or
    1551.102 means the individual’s:
    (1) spouse;
    (2) unmarried child younger than 25 years of age;
    (3) child of any age who the board of trustees
    determines lives with or has the child’s care provided by the
    individual on a regular basis…[snip other stuff not important to this discussion]

  20. eric:

    cptdoom:

    As I understand most of these partner benefits, either the employee pays for their partner to be on the plan, so no additional cost to the district, or the partner has to pay income tax on the cost of the benefit to their partner, as additional income, so the state gets extra tax money.

    The bigger issue (IMO) is that the insurance provider can flat-out refuse to cover anyone who does not legally fit in the categories of spouse and dependent – regardless of who is paying for that person’s policy. In contrast, they must cover legal spouses and dependents if the employee is wiling to pay for that. So, again, there is an important access issue which is separate from the ‘who pays’ issue.

    If our health system was set up so that my corporate health provider was required to cover anyone I was willing to pay for, then the issue of whether a gay spouse is a legal spouse or dependent might not be so economically critical (though still morally important). But they are not so required. They can simply refuse coverage for anyone I propose to pay for, if that person isn’t in one of the legal ‘spouse or dependent’ categories. So the issue of who legally counts as a spouse becomes very economically critical for gay couples. (Full disclosure, all of the above is by way of illustrative example; I am not personally in the position of wanting to cover a person who is not my legal spouse or dependent.)

  21. Ichthyic:

    Ic, it was right there in the link I gave, in @3. Very first line – all you had to do was click. But okay, here it is:

    my point was to get YOU to examine why your statement in 3 is ludicrously naive.

    oh well.

    you’ll see what happens when they pass this.

  22. democommie:

    “BTW, glad Y’all are enjoying another round of Texas bashing.”

    I, for one, do not bash Texas, just the assholes who run it into the ground and the morons who elect them.

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