Obama administration poised to put controversial plan into play

By Layron Livingston - bio | email
Posted by Ellen Krafve - email

TYLER, TX (KLTV) - The president is calling it an historic step, but just a step. President Obama has signed a memo extending job benefits to the same-sex partners of federal employees. Here in East Texas, it's not just morals and money at the heart of the debate.

It is a major move by President Obama. But, is it the right move?

"I believe we should all have the same opportunities," said Cathy Sullivan.

"I don't have a problem with it," said Kisha Frazier.

"It's a problem with me," said Charles King. "It's always been a problem."

King said he fully supports his president, but King said there's a big difference between correct and politically correct.

"A lot of people consider that to be the norm, but is it reality," said King.

Same sex partners could be added to a government insurance program to help pay for long-term health conditions. Sick leave would also be allowed to care for sick partners or non-biological children. Same sex partners, however, would not have access to primary health insurance or pensions. That would require congressional approval.

"Every little bit helps," said Troy Carlyle. "Absolutely."

Carlyle said gay and lesbian's feelings have been mixed, lately, but it's a step in the right direction. He is founder of Project Tag, a community forum for East Texas gays and lesbians.

"This country is supposed to be based on freedom," said Carlyle. "You're not supposed to weigh in on how much it costs before we decide who gets equal rights."

"It's a moral issue and it's a financial issue," said Ashton Oravetz, Smith County Republican party chair.

Oravetz said it is especially an issue if taxpayers are fitting the bill.

"What you're basically doing in my opinion is saying, 'Well, if the federal government will pay for anybody who is living with somebody,'" said Oravetz.

While it is an important issue for him, it was not much of an issue for his democratic counterpart.

"In the last election people said what really matters is health care, the economy and national security," said David Henderson. "When the history of the Obama administration is written, this won't get a footnote."

Only time will tell. Meanwhile, for some, the debate continues.

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