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The Christian Right's never ending war to stop teh gays from ever having anything nice or obtaining a modicum of parity with their fellow heterosexual Americans had some unintended collateral damage in Texas in November.

A ballot measure designed to restrict gay city of El Paso employees from obtaining same-sex partner benefits has been determined to have ended the eligibility of retired policeman and firemen and others, Wall Street Journal reports.

The ballot measure was a response to the city council passing a law allowing "domestic parters" access to city employees' health and other benefits. The law was gender neutral, allowing both heterosexual and gay partners equal access. According the Wall Street Journal, since they were made available "19 people signed up, adding about $30,000 to the city's $34 million health-care budget."

 title=A coalition of Christians groups formed the basis of the pushback, organized by Pastor Tom Brown of the Word of Life Church. When this amateur theocrat isn't pushing ill-fated ballot initiatives, Rev Brown advertises himself as an exorcist. Perhaps he should have stuck to that gig? After authoring the ballot measure, Brown admits he never ran the language by a lawyer, so I guess this is the sort of thing that can be expected to happen:

Meanwhile, past and current employees are clamoring to reinstate the health benefits, and union leaders are preparing a lawsuit against the city. Counting all those city workers who would lose benefits when they retire, the number of affected people could grow to at least 10,000 over several years, said Ron Martin, president of the local police union.

"We don't want to get into a holy war with the church," he said. "I just wish they would have left us alone."

Yeah, brother, we gay people know the feeling. Why can't they just leave us alone?

Several options for remedy are being discussed. The City Council declined to vote outright to repeal the law. They are looking into amending it. This sets up a stand-off, some council members say they will vote down any amendment that does not restore same-sex benefits. From the WSJ:

Gay activists say the city is responsible for fighting against discrimination. "If you leave it up to the vote, black people would still be riding in the back of buses," said Bill Ellis, secretary for Rio Grande Adelante Inc., a local non-profit group.


Rick Scibelli, Jr. for the Wall Street Journal, more here.

El Paso's gay community have organized peaceful demonstrations of opposition at the Word of Life Church, holding signs like "Whose health insurance would Jesus vote away?" KVIA-TV has a video report of the protest action. The protests aren't sitting well with the good Reverend, having done his damage, he's ready to move on. He is quoted in the Dallas Voice:

"This is a place where people have their particular views, and they shouldn't be put to ridicule because a particular church doesn't correspond to the public view," said Brown.

 title=Well, isn't that convenient? Now, the good pastor wants a little respectful privacy. This whole mess would never have transpired if you had kept your church's values on church property, would it? But I guess God told you double standards are OK, huh?

So, Rev. Tom Brown, have you learned a lesson? Do you see when you perpetuate evil on one people, you may be unable to contain the evil you unleash? Are you sorry?

Mr. Brown admits the city's interpretation of the measure does not match what his group intended, but says city officials have to respect the will of the public. "I have no regrets," he said. "We did what was right."

Sigh. Jesus weeps.

Please read Ana Campoy's story at the Wall Street Journal, she has done an excellent job reporting it.

Originally posted to Scott Wooledge on Tue Jan 04, 2011 at 07:16 AM PST.

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