Bob Bytes Back Archives: 06/12/1996 Michigan Wins Again (Gay Benefits At OSU)

by Bob Fitrakis

Helluva way to kick off Gay Pride Month. For the fourth straight year–and I do mean “straight”–Ohio’s Executive Committee of the Bourgeoisie (aka Ohio State University trustees) refused to consider health insurance coverage for the “domestic partners” of graduate assistants.
Domestic partners are couples in committed monogamous long-term relationships attested to by affidavits, who, for legal (read gay and lesbians), philosophical or financial reasons, aren’t married.

Students for Domestic Partnerships, however, did not go quietly this time. Yes, Les Wexner and all those incredibly important and pious people on the board could clearly hear the megaphone chants: “Hey, hey, ho, ho, homophobia has got to go!”

The exchange between admitted “queer” advocate and graduate student, T.J. Ghose, and Les Wexner was a classic. The immaculately tailored Wexner was unruffled by the impassioned plea from T.J. But Les did offer to allow T.J. to address the board at the next meeting just before security ushered him out of the building.

Take him up on it, T.J.! But don’t concern yourself with the facts. You know that many other universities already offer domestic partner coverage including Michigan, Michigan State, Minnesota, Illinois, Wright State, etc. Or that the coverage would not use university funds, but simply add 49 cents of each paycheck to individual premiums paid for out of the employee’s profit. Or even that the school has a non-discriminatory policy that includes sexual orientation that they are clearly violating.

No T.J., you’re dealing here with very sophisticated people. Tell ’em that it’s been helping Michigan recruit promiscuous football players prone to “shacking up,” and that Ohio State will return to the glory of yesteryears if they’d just get on even footing with those devious and perverted Wolverines.

George is my shepherd

While I’m on the subject of important, pious and pompous people, how ’bout our guv? I’m still adjusting to the fact that he proclaimed me and other Ohioans part of his “flock.” I’ve been waking up in the night screaming, but I’m trying to work through it with Hannibal Lecter.

I’ve been saying a little prayer each night: “George is my shepherd, I shall not want, he leadeth me to the state Lotto terminals, he taketh me to lie down in green radioactive pastures, he tempts me with his privatized liquor stores, he teaches me to take the Lord’s name in vain.

“And though I walk in the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil. For I know it is called the Statehouse and my shepherd has etched the words in stone ‘With God All Things Are Possible.’ And he shall dwell in this House of hypocrisy all the days of his life.”

Machiavelli, who wrote The Prince, the primer on modern power politics, suggested that political leaders should make great public displays of their religious conviction while privately pursuing ruthless amoral political agendas. At least the governor’s well-read. Another reason Bob Dole should take our devout shepherd from us and anoint him a VP.

Last thought on Dole: In America we cherish equal rights. Both the living and the undead have the same right to pursue high office. In Dole’s case, though, there probably should be law requiring him to wear a cape.

Look Out Bosses!

The Labor Party Advocates became The Labor Party last weekend in Cleveland. They’re not running candidates yet, although there were current and former presidential hopefuls in attendance. Ralph Nader was there and signed off on the Green Party’s efforts to place his name on the Ohio ballot as an Independent. Jerry Brown was in high spirits as he passionately denounced the “corrupt two-party system.” In a chat with the decidedly un-Voinovichy Brown, I learned among other things that the former California guv’s Oakland commune now houses some 20 members.

Brown pointed out that two words were missing from Clinton’s Democratic Party Platform in 1992, and most likely will be again in ’96: “unions” and “justice.”

Ironically, just as 1,500 enthusiastic unionists were founding a new Labor Party, the AFL-CIO endorsed President Clinton earlier in the presidential election year than any time in its history. The fact that Mr. NAFTA, Mr. GATT, Mr. Bill is once again the AFL-CIO leadership’s darling did not sit well with the delegates.

A large contingent of striking Detroit Free Press and Detroit News newspaper people rocked the hall with their militancy. The Labor Party endorsed a nationwide march on Detroit to support the 2,000 workers well into their 11th month on strike. As a Detroit native, I can’t wait.

In anticipation of the coming hot time in the motor city, delegates practiced for the upcoming event by marching on Cleveland City Hall and heckling Cleveland’s Democratic mayor, Michael White, after he suggested doing away with Ohio’s public employee organizing law.

But the biggest drawback to the new Labor Party is its top-down approach. A skeptical press corps worked up a list of jokes. “What’s the difference between the Labor Party and the Catholic Church?” “One’s a male-dominated, undemocratic, patriarchal organization and the other is run by the Pope.”