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May 25, 1994 - Image 4

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
Michigan Daily Summer Weekly, 1994-05-25

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

OPINION
Page 4 Wednesday,. .''394

EDITOR IN CHIEF
James M. Nash
EDITORIAL PAGE EDITORS
Patrick Javid
Jason S. Lichtstein

420 Maynard Street
Ann Arbor, Michigan 48109
Edited and managed by students at
the University of Michigan.

0

Unsigned editorials present the opinion of a majority of the Daily's
editorial board. All other cartoons, signed articles and letters
do not necessarily reflect the opinion of the Daily.

The University of Michigan has come
one step closer toward developing a
stronger andmoreequitable campuscommu-
nity. On Friday, the Board of Regents tacitly
approved implementation of the amended
Regental Bylaw 14.06--which adds sexual
orientation to the list of specific characteris-
tics that the University cannot discriminate
against. Last fall, President James J.
Duderstadt appointed a task force to investi-
gate the ramifications of implementing the
change in Bylaw 14.06 with respect to em-
ployment benefits, family housing, financial
aid packages and student residency status.
The report of this task force, supported by the
regents last Friday - save the homophobic
rantings of Regent Deane Baker (R-Ann Ar-
bor), who attempted to vote down 14.06
implementation - is very encouraging.
The task force conducted research that
debunked many of the myths surrounding
gay and lesbian partnerships. One of the
biggest fears is thatduetoadifferentlifestyle,
same-sex partners will require more expen-

14.06: Equal Rights
for Campus Gays
Regents clear the way for implementation

sive medical treatment. The task force con-
tacted many universities with same-sex part-
ner benefits to test this theory. In all cases, it
was disproven. In fact,the predicted increased
costs will be minuscule. The task force esti-
mates that the increase will be in the range of
$100,000 to $250,000 -nothing in the face
of the $2.6 million doled out by the Univer-
sity for all benefits. Another major issue
examined by the task force is the extension of
family housing to same-sex couples. This is
not as radical a change as one might think.
Gay and lesbian students andstaff are already

allowed to live in University housing by
themselves or as single parents. Extending
benefits to same-sex couples would obvi-
ously not be a great departure from protocol.
The extension of benefits to same-sex
couples is a good idea -however, the nature
of the partnership needs to be more accu-
rately defined. The task force recommended
that same-sex couples not be put under a
series of tests to prove their commitment to
one another. An example of this would be a
requirement to show financial interdepen-
dence though documentation such as a joint

lease or joint ownership of an automobile
The task force correctly realized that a
quirement of this sort may represent a b
against lower-income employees.
The recommendation of the task forci
with respect to gay and lesbian partnership,
was to initiate a documentation process de
signed toresemble heterosexualmarriages a,
closely as possible. However, there are stil
undercurrents of unfair treatment and ques
tions that need to be answered. For example
Michigan law requires a 60-day waiting
rinod between the filing and finalizing of
divorce between heterosexualcouples, while
the University task force recommends a 90
day waiting period for same-sex couples
Moreover, although the task force recom
mends the usage of Ann Arbor's Domestic
Partnership Ordinance, the University stil
has not decided firmly on a workable defini
tion of same-sex marriage. Despite this cr'
cism, the recommendations of the task fol
are positive. They deserve a speedy and ef
fective implementation.

Jones v. Clinton
Keep elected officials within the law

Health care: progress
Prospects bright as consensus builds

I L V

P resident Clinton'spastcontinues to haunt
him. Last week Clinton's prominent
Washington,D.C.,lawyer, RobertS. Bennett,
and the Justice Department announced they
are trying to rid Clinton of the sexual harass-
ment suit brought by a former Arkansas
employee, Paula Jones. Both are planning to
support a motion to ask a federal judge in
Arkansas to grant immunity to presidents
from any lawsuits filed against them while
they areinoffice. Ineffect, ifthe government's
argument is upheld, it would unnecessarily
impede the judicial process by delaying both
criminal and civil suits against the president
submitted before he takes office, and all
purely private cases filed during the
president's term. This motion would unduly
put presidents above the law, and even more
importantly, severely hinder the rights of
plaintiffs in private suits-howeverecredible
their case may be.
Several weak arguments are at the core of
Clinton's latest legal maneuver. The reason-
ing goes that lengthy and highly publicized
lawsuits, testimony and court proceedings
could undermine - even paralyze - the
president and national government. Clearly,
the national security of the United States is
not being threatened by the likes of Paula
Jones.
Moreover, Bennett claims that Clinton
could be harassed by hundreds of aggrieved
people if the judge decides not to grant the

president such immunity. We hope Clinton
has not aggrieved by that many people. And
even if these "aggrieved" people are mere
imposters, they should still have the full
rights of the judicial system: namely, their
right to a fair and speedy trial, and their right
to the full due process of the law.
In the meantime, Paula Jones - despite
the fact that her charge levelled against the
president seems suspiciously sensationalis-
tic - may well have been approached by
Clinton in that hotel roomin 1991. The public
simply cannot know at this point. The fact
that the defendant happens to be an important
public officialshouldnot hinder women from
initiating sexual harassment suits.
Yet few women are speaking out against
the Justice Department's motion, and several
women's organizations, including the Na-
tional Organization for Women, are even
questioning Janes' credibility. True, Clinton
has been the first president in 12 years to
support women's issues through his advo-
cacy of a woman's right to an abortion, the
Family Leave Act, and his political appoin-
tees. But the fact remains: this motion at-
tempts to subvert basic American legal prin-
ciples in closing the door on a sexual harass-
ment case. The president of the United States
must be held accountable for his actions and
behavior at all times.
Paula Jones, like any man or woman,
should be allowed her day in court.

'

Radically restructuring one-seventhof the
U.S. economy is not a task to be taken
lightly. In large part, government programs
like Social Security have been successful
because they were passed with a broad man-
date - as the American people widely ac-
cepted that the hand of government is
oftentimes necessary. This is precisely why
the recent news from Capitol Hill should be
welcomed. As Sen. Phil Gramm (R-Fla.) and
his right-wing cronies continue to rail on
'socialized medicine," and as many liberals
stand by the misguided belief that only a
single-payer system can work, the rest of us
can breath a sigh of relief: the Senate appears
to be crafting a sensible, bipartisan approach
to health care reform.
The final health care bill is most likely
going to be a compromise between bills
produced in the Senate Labor Committee and
the Finance Committee. But ever since Presi-
dent Clinton opened the health care flood-
gates, political factions have been dominant
within these committees. Sen. John Chafee
(R-R.I.), a member of the Finance Commit-
tee and centrist Republican, put forth a bill
echoing the president's pledge for universal
coverage. Yet, he asked that this be achieved
not by requiring employers to pay for their
employee's health insurance - so-called
employer mandates - but by forcing indi-
viduals to obtain insurance. Conservative
Democrats were also wary of politically un-

popular mandates. And on the left, presiden-
tial allies held fast to their belief that price
controls and employer mandates were the
only way to achieve real reform.
Last Thursday, political stalemate an
slim partisan margins were avoided. Indian
Republican Sen. Daniel Coats joined a Labo
Committee vote to pass cost-control mea
sures that were fullofsubstantialconcessic
on both sides. Sen. John Breaux joined wh
a small group of conservatives to decide tha
employer mandates could be acceptable if it
excluded employers of 10 or fewer workers.
And in a related move within the Senate
Labor Committee, Sen. Edward Kennedy's
(D-Mass.) own health care reform legislation
gives numerous concessions to small busi-
nesses.
Ideologically, this page supports a Ca*
dian-style system. But the fact is, the most
important social innovation in decades can-
not be left to the whims of a few vacillating
senators. As long as each and every Ameri-
can can be assured day in and day out that
health care is a right - as congressmen and
women can - all should be satisfied. In
terms of specific concessions, though, here is
something to think about: employer m-
dates have been tested before. They wei
implemented in Hawaii in 1985. Contrary tc
direpredictions, thishasnothurt the economy
in any significant way, and it has resulted in
near universal coverage for all.

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