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4 - Tuesday, September 20, 2011

The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com

4 - Tuesday, September 20, 2011 The Michigan Daily - michigandailycom

Edited and managed by students at
the University of Michigan since 1890.
420 Maynard St.
Ann Arbor, MI 48109
tothedaily@michigandaily.com

HANNAH DOW

E-MAIL HANNAH AT HDOW UMICIo.E)U

STEPHANIE STEINBERG
EDITOR IN CHIEF

MICHELLE DEWITT
and EMILY ORLEY
EDITORIAL PAGE EDITORS

NICK SPAR
MANAGING EDITOR

Unsigned editorials reflect the official position of the Daily's editorial board.
All other signed articles and illustrations represent solely the views of their authors.
Dome stic dispute
Same-sex partners should get employee benefits
The Republican-led Michigan House is again attempting to
ban domestic partner benefits. The House passed two bills
last week, both of which seek to prohibit public employ-
ees from extending their benefits to live-in companions including
unmarried partners and roommates. These bills further demon-
strate Michigan Republicans' disregard of domestic partnerships,
and the state Senate should not pass them.

Though the legislation labels unmarried
heterosexual partners of state employees as
individuals who may not receive benefits, the
spirit of the law specifically targets same-
sex couples. The proposed bills would make
it impossible for same-sex partners of public
employees to receive benefits, since gay mar-
riage was banned in Michigan in 2004. If the
legislation passes in the Senate, unmarried het-
erosexual couples have recourse to obtain state
employee benefits. Same-sex couples - as leg-
islators well know - will not have that option.
After a series of recent, high-profile legisla-
tion recognizing the rights of homosexual men
and women - notably the state of New York -
it's unfortunate that the Michigan Legislature
continues its efforts to constrain what many
consider to be basic, equal rights. However,
that is exactly what the House did this week in
passing the pair of bills. The state Legislature
doesn't have the authority to define morality
and individual behaviors of consenting adults.
The passage of the legislation by the state Sen-
ate would limit access to benefits for people in
domestic partnerships.
This vote makes Michigan a particularly
unfriendly place for the gay community. If
t is bill does pass, Michigan could drive
homosexuals and the greater LGBTQ com-
munity out of the state. Analysts predict that
the ban could save the state about $8 mil-
lion in the upcoming year, but they neglect
to examine what could potentially be lost if
lawmakers push the LGBTQ community out
of Michigan. If the legislation truly stems

from economic considerations, then the Leg-
islature would be cutting partner benefits
across the board, instead of isolating a spe-
cific group. Since only domestic partnerships
are being targeted, the legislation is clearly
based on social considerations.
Though the proposal extends to universi-
ties, schools and local governments, Democrats
say public universities have the constitutional
power to establish their own rules regarding
partner benefits. The University should assert
its autonomy and allow for domestic compan-
ions to collect benefits regardless of the Senate
vote outcome. This cannot be a subject of col-
lective bargaining-the University should defy
the tentative ban and maintain its commitment
to diversity and equality.
The Michigan Civil Service Commission
also has the authority to decide on the types
of benefits given to state employees. A vote
already took place earlier this year to allow
domestic partner benefits for certain state
employees beginning in October. The Univer-
sity should follow the group's precedent and
offer the same benefits forlive-in companions.
As citizens of an open democracy, we
shouldn't be trying to restrict the practices
of individuals. The House should spend its
time working on bills pertaining to jobs and
the economy, rather than individual lifestyles.
Michigan can't afford to become an unfriend-
ly state to any community and should strive to
be a welcoming place. Senators should ensure
that this bill is thrown out when it reaches
their floor.

Season student football tickets: $210.00
Posters to decorate your new dorm room: $40.00
New North Face backpack: $75.00
Paying 400 dollars for books you will never use again:
PRICELESS
A balancing act
T hose who know me would school thespian. So I didn't. I diver- of pushing a radical gay agenda,
not be surprised to find out sified my portfolio and I wrote on a it's because they feel they couldn't
that I did theater in high host of topics that often had nothing push any other sort of agenda if they
school. Some- to do with Jews or anythinggay. came out. Other minority groups
thing about the out of the seven articles I wrote experience the same rigid charac-
glint in my eye, during my last semester as a col- terization, even if they don't have
I suppose. Nor umnist, one focused on Israel and the curse or blessingof being able to
would it shock one discussed a matter of gay iden- hide in the closet. The woman politi-
them to hear tity. And among the eight columns cian; the black television anchor; the
that I played I wrote during the semester before disabled political correspondent.
most of my roles that, not a single one centered on
as Jews, even - anything specific to the Jewish or
when the script MATTHEW LGBTQ communities. Yet upon my
didn't call for it. GREEN return from a semester abroad, I I don't w ant to be
(I once played a heard from multiple people, "We
Christian mis- missed all of your gay, Jewish col- pigeonholed into
sionary with a Yiddish accent. "Chas umns when you were gone."
v'sholom, Sergeant Sarah, they're These remarks were surely meant any one category.
going to close the mission!") Most to be kind or lighthearted, and I
of the time I did this to ham up a only took them as such. But as I sat
comic role for even bigger laughs. down to write this week's column,
Sometimes my directors specifical- I couldn't help but get a little self- We fit people and ideas into neat
ly asked me to do so. And I suspect conscious. I initially considered little boxes that don't accurately rep-
there were times when they cast me writing a column about the Pales- resent them as abstract entities. And
in roles they thought would be par- tinian statehood bid, until I decided while there are surely times to focus
ticularly humorous with an added oy I didn't want to advance an overly on race, gender or sexuality, we have
here and there. Jewish image. Then I contemplated to be careful about reducing people
I never got any lead roles. Apart writing about Jane Lynch hosting to what - in some contexts, anyway
from being a lousy actor, I knew the Emmys this weekend and what - are ultimately just adjectives. It's
this had something to do with the it implied for the gay rights move- obvious, perhaps, but this lesson
fact that I always played each part ment. But wait, another gay column? is something we need to remem-
the same way. A lesson was to be I could just imagine the eyes begin- ber particularly at a time when our
learned. ning to roll, national political discourse increas-
Fast forward four years.. The So in my neurotic attempt to ingly follows the logic of: I am this.
scene has changed, I'm somewhat come across as neither overtly gay You are that.So we are enemies, and
more able to grow facial hair and nor Jewish, I'm presenting myself as I won't listen to you.
I've traded scripts and costumes for both. Don't get me wrong, I think it's In my columns I have strived
the opinion page of my college news- terrific to have a Jewish, gay voice as to find a balance, in content and in
paper. When I started writing my part of The Michigan Daily. And I'm style, between the various elements
own column, I attempted to use the proud to be that person, from time that make up my voice. I accept as
medium to find my voice as a writ- to time, when it's relevant. But I'm a a published writer that I have little
er. Naturally, my Jewishness again little concerned by howsome people control over how I am perceived. I
came to the fore. This time, how- pigeonhole me and refuse to see me can only hope that readers view me
ever, it was coupled with a burgeon- in any other light. as more than just "the gay, Jewish
ing desire to explore my gay identity Even today, there are actors in columnist." Even if I have to write a
through columns. Somewhere along Hollywood who refuse to come out gay, Jewish column to get there.
the road, my parents warned me that as gay because if they did, audiences
I ought not typecast myself again, struggle to see them as anything but. -Matthew Green can be reached
lest I suffer the fate I met as a high It's not because they'd be accused at greenmat@umich.edu.
LETTERS TO THE EDITOR:
Readers are encouraged to submit letters to the editor. Letters should be fewer than 300
words and must include the writer's full name and University affiliation. We do not print anonymous
letters. Send letters to tothedaily@michigandaily.com
VANESSA RYCHLINSKI |
Punishing patients,

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EDITORIAL BOARD MEMBERS:
Aida Ali, Michelle DeWitt, Ashley Griesshammer, Patrick Maillet,
Erika Mayer, Harsha Nahata, Emily Orley,
Teddy Papes, Timothy Rabb, Seth Soderborg, Andrew Weiner
CAROLINE SYMS I
Many steps for health reform

Republican Gov. Rick Snyder recently pro-
posed his "revolutionary plan" to create a
healthier state - one that is free of obesity
and full of wellness. Snyder aims to grant
children better access to healthy foods and
exercise, regulate childhood obesity through
routine body mass measurements and create
an exchange for citizens and businesses to buy
health insurance. Snyder also wants Michigan
to join the 27 states that provide coverage for
autism. In addition to these governmental reg-
ulations, Snyder calls upon Michigan's citizens
to take control of their own lifestyles through
a new "4x4" fitness program that encourages
citizens to make healthier food choices, exer-
cise more frequently and take initiative to visit
their doctors regularly.
It's commendable that Snyder wants to
promote health throughout Michigan since
obtaining a healthy lifestyle should always be
a number one priority for all individuals. Sny-
der's decision to provide health coverage for
people with autism is also incredibly impor-
tant; it's time the government acknowledges
the severity of the disorder and does its best to
aid those affected. I am finding, however, that
Snyder has not thought through the logistics
of this new health reform as thoroughly as he
should.
For starters, it doesn't.seem plausible that
the government alone will be able to afford
to implement these drastic changes. So, what
does that mean for Michigan citizens? Taxes.
While Snyder does call upon federal funding
and grants to meet the requirements for his
plan, what will the source of that funding boil
down to? My best guess is taxpayers. Michi-
gan families will be the ones spending their
hard-earned dollars on Snyder's reforms, but
how are low-income families supposed to par-
ticipate?
This leads me to believe that it's not the
right time for Michigan to begin these numer-
ous health care modificaions. Why is Snyder
trying to turn obesity around right now? Yes,
changes need to start somewhere at some

time, but Americans across the country have
been struggling with obesity and health care
coverage for a long time with no real improve-
ments resulting. Similarly, engaging in Sny-
der's plan for an exclusively healthy diet seems
to be a leisure of the wealthy, since they are the
ones able to afford large supplies of organical-
ly grown foods and healthier products on the
whole. Low-income families don't have this
luxury, so Snyder's "4x4" plan isn't exactly
realistic for the entire state.
There certainly are alternative, more
affordable measures that the government
can implement for promoting healthy living
throughout the state. We know exercising
is one of the best things you can do for your
body, so why doesn't Snyder focus on organiz-
ing campaigns at local schools, events or busi-
nesses to relay the importance of engaging in
daily exercise? After all, walking or running in
the fresh air doesn't even cost a penny. If indi-
viduals of all ages are educated about the ben-
efits of exercise and the difference it makes in
creating healthy lifestyles, then everyone wins
and economic pressures are put to rest.
First and foremost, however, the local
government should place an emphasis on
childhood education in general, so children
can become intellectually capable of mak-
ing healthy choices and will have a chance to
overcome poverty by securing employment in
the future. This will help low-income families
overcome poverty. Then the state can focus
on these drastic reforms. By first controlling
unemployment and poverty, the state will
be much better off at actually succeeding in
health reform.
If Snyder uses smaller, tactful steps to
emphasize the sheer importance of both edu-
cation and simple exercise, it will go a long
way in leveling the economic playing field so
that everyone has equal opportunity to par-
ticipate in turning Michigan into a health-
conscious state.
Caroline Syms is an LSA sophomore.

The Michigan Court of Appeals ruled medical mari-
juana dispensaries in Michigan to be unconstitutional
Wednesday, Aug. 24. The following day, two dispensa-
ries in Ann Arbor were raided by the Livingston and
Washtenaw Narcotics Enforcement Team. State police
officers, in head-to-toe black outfits complete with face
masks, stood in front of MedMar on Packard and A2 Go
Green Corp on Main Street. Officers loaded cardboard
boxes into white vans, likely containing thousands of
dollars in assets. Three staff members were arrested.
With the entire hubbub, it is important to look at other
recent events before speculating about the future of
medical marijuana.
The Oakland County Narcotics Enforcement
Team conducted another raid almost exactly a year
ago. Spearheaded by Oakland County Sherriff Mike
Bouchard, more than $750,000 worth of medicine and
plants was seized from two dispensaries in Waterford
Township and Ferndale, Michigan.
Voters sent a strong message in Nov. 2008 when they
approved the Michigan Medical Marihuana Act by a 63
percent majority. As Chuck Ream, co-owner of MedMar,
said on Thursday in an AnnArbor.com article, "I real-
ly didn't think that they (federal police) would do this
because we have so much support from the voters here."
Unfortunately the lack of clarity in the legislation
allows for many to take advantage of the system, from
those participating in the industry to moralists who
wish to shut it down. This latest attack on local Michi-
gan businesses was not altogether unforeseeable. This
past June, the U.S. Department of Justice stated in a
public memo that people involved in cultivating, sell-
ing or distributing marijuana may be subject to federal
enforcement action and potential prosecution.
When Isabella County filed the complaint that the
Compassionate Apothecary in Mount Pleasant, Michi-
gan was a "public nuisance" that violated the pub-
lic health code, it was easy for the Michigan Appeals
Court to rule* the sale of pot between persons with
state-issued cards unconstitutional (i.e. virtually all
entities who make the MMMA possible).
Former Michigan Attorney General Mike Cox
blocked previous Drug Enforcement Administration-
issued subpoenas for patient records, which demanded
everything from state-issued identification cards to
payment information. Cox rightfully cited the attempt
as a violation of patient confidentiality. Bill Schuette,

his successor, handed over the documents to the DEA
after less than a week of being in office.
The MMMA has never been succinct and has never
protected the people that it was supposed to empow-
er - allowing only the "delivery" and "transfer" of
medicine rather than explicit sale by a business. If the
law had included some mention of dispensaries, then
Michigan businesses would have had something legiti-
mate to stand behind. Dan Riffle, legislative analyst for
the Marijuana Policy Project, has stated the state ought
to have provided a control model for dispensaries, pro-
viding a legislative base that has been lacking thus far.
The law would be clear from either side of the fence,
and all dispensaries would be responsible for adhering
to a set of standards. Furthermore, the state could also
tax businesses, generating much-needed revenue fo- a
depressed economy.
It seems that such legislation will be necessary if the
medical marijuana industry hopes to continue. Opera-
tion within the "gray area" of the law will no longer
be possible. The bottom line is marijuana used for
medicinal purposes is legal - cardholders have a right
to their medication. Schuette and the DOJ clearly wish
for patients to look on the streets for their needs, since
in two short days they have simultaneously delegiti-
mized a process that has been approved by the people
of Michigan and deprived sick people of their rights.
Schuette's job is to protect and oversee laws, not make
new ones based on the fact that he's in the pocket of
pharmaceutical companies.
It's hard to say how the industry can rebound from
this setback. The day before the raids when dispen-
saries were ruled illegal, an intern at OM of Medi-
cine in Ann Arbor pointed out to me, this event only
serves to make any pro-pot organization that much
more difficult to exist. Many small business owners
saw their livelihoods literally dismantled before their
eyes because of the raids, losing funds and assets as
well as spirit. Despite President Barack Obama's prom-
ises regarding medical marijuana, his administration's
DOJ has interfered more than that of former President
George W. Bush. What's even more disheartening?
That in this economic downturn, a Michigan official
would be willing to halt a source of revenue instead of
accommodating it.
Vanessa Rychlinski is an LSA junior.

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