Thursday, April 19, 2007
I submitted the following article to the Courier-Journal today.
In a recent Courier-Journal article, Wes Wright of the Kentucky Fairness Alliance expresses indignation at the fact that The Family Foundation has called so much attention to misleading statements made by U of L President James Ramsey to lawmakers in Frankfort. Ramsey told state legislators during the debate over SB 152 that the University of Louisville was not subsidizing the health care benefits of the live-in partners of its staff and faculty, when, in fact, it was.
We can understand why the Fairness Alliance is so sensitive about this: it has been spreading this same disinformation around the state since the beginning of the debate over domestic partner benefits last year.
First it claimed that neither UK nor U of L were subsidizing benefits for the non-married live-in partners of their staff and faculty—until, that is, UK came out and admitted that that’s exactly what it was doing. Then it latched onto assurances given by President Ramsey that, whatever UK was doing, U of L was not subsidizing its benefits—only to discover that U of L too was giving a subsidy.
It must be hard over at the Fairness Alliance offices, where the justifications for your positions seem to evaporate on an hourly basis.
This being the case, we can understand that the Fairness Alliance needs to take out its frustrations on someone. But Wright, fresh from discovering that many of the Fairness Alliances arguments during the legislative session were entirely bogus, goes on to accuse us of being inaccurate in our portrayal of events.
The Fairness Alliance charges first that we accused Ramsey of deliberately misleading the committee. In fact, we did not say that at all.
We never said Ramsey knew his university was subsidizing domestic partner benefits; what we said was that he should have known. The U of L President testified in March of 2007 that it wasn’t subsidizing the benefits when U of L had been telling its employees the exact opposite since early January.
At U of L, apparently the left hand doesn’t know what the far left hand is doing.
But Ramsey only “misspoke,” says Wright. Misleading lawmakers may be taken seriously in some quarters, but at the Fairness Alliance, it’s all in a day’s work.
In this respect, we presume the Fairness Alliance had no problem with the way Ramsey acted upon the public disclosure that he “misspoke.” Ramsey waited until the very last day of the session—until the fate of Senate Bill 152 was already determined—to finally admit it, and even then only half-heartedly and privately apologized to a handful of legislators.
And after the session was over, the U of L President had the nerve to send a letter to his alumni blaming others for distorting the issue—and without mentioning he had “misspoken”.
Wright also charges that State Sen. Vernie McGaha gave the committee inaccurate information when he said that U of L’s subsidies to domestic partners could amount to as much as $600,000 a year. He then blames us for providing him that information.
Well, yes, we did provide that information to legislators. But Mr. Wright fails in his article to tell CJ readers where that information originally came from: it came from U of L itself. It was only at the committee meeting in question that U of L finally disavowed the report this data came from.
We should have known then what everyone seems now to have discovered: that U of L cannot be counted on to get the facts straight—even when it comes to its own policies and finances.
Finally, Wright contests our argument that U of L’s domestic partner policy violates the second clause of the Marriage Amendment. His argument amounts to saying that his legal expert is better than our legal expert. His legal expert is Sam Marcosson, a U of L law professor and gay rights advocate. Ours was Glen Lavy, with whom the Michigan Court of Appeals recently agreed in its decision striking down domestic partner benefits policies in Michigan.
What does Marcosson have over Lavy, a graduate of Harvard Law School, in Wright’s estimation? Perhaps it is the fact that Marcosson also “misspoke” at the Frankfort meetings, parroting Ramsey’s now discredited claims that the university was not giving subsidies to domestic partners.
It seems that the Fellowship of the Misspoken is a close-knit one. But when those who hold truth in such low esteem criticize other people for being inaccurate—and are so inaccurate in doing so, it is very hard to take them seriously.