Friday, August 22, 2008

Good news out of Otsego County

It was quite a jaw-dropper last week when Oneonta's newspaper The Daily Star reported that County Treasurer Myra Thayne took it upon herself to unilaterally revise the county’s health care plan to exclude same-sex couples, whatever their legal status. She clearly felt the shifting statewide political and legal climate in favor of recognizing legal out-of-state marriages of same-sex couples might mean Otsego County would be faced with doing the same thing for a LGBT county employee coming back married from Canada, Massachusetts or California.

It was equally refreshing today to learn that the Otsego County Board of Representatives, Republicans and Democrats alike, voted Wednesday night to reverse Thayne’s action and made clear she had acted without consulting the County Board and had no authority to do what she did. Go here and here to read about this.

While James Powers, Chairman of the County Board and a Republican, told The Daily Star that the Board does not expect to pro-actively recognize legal out-of-state marriages of same-sex couples, he did say he expects New York will eventually allow same-sex couples to get married here at home.

Powers’ statement is just one of many increasingly being made by elected officials across the state that marriage equality is coming to New York. He believes as we do. Marriage equality is no longer a matter of if for New York -- it’s only a matter of when.

If this were not 2008, Myra Thayne probably could have gotten away with what she did last week. Her actions though were seen by elected officials on both sides of the political aisle as an overreach and an unfair targeting of LGBT county employees.

We give credit to the LGBT community in Oneonta and Otsego County and groups like PFLAG. They swung into action last week when the Thayne policy change was made public. They contacted their elected representatives on the County Board. They attended the Board meeting on Wednesday night and spoke out against Thayne’s decision. And the County Board agreed with them and made the right decision in reversing what was clearly an ugly statement of personal bias on the part of the Otsego County Treasurer.

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