2/23/2010 1:50 PM
One of the things that has always baffled me about the Texas Legislature is how ANY Republicans believe that the University of Texas administration is conservative (or fiscally responsible, for that matter). True, some UT regents write big checks to politicians. But I know some Texas legislators who usually aren't influenced by that stuff who sincerely think the UT administration is conservative. It's as if anyone who wears a coat and tie is suddenly right-wing.
An article from yesterday's Daily Texan ought to put that notion to rest once and for all. The President of the University of Texas attends a gay rights conference and endorses one of the top priorities of the campus left -- domestic partner benefits. This in spite of the fact that 2/3rds of the Texas Legislature and the vast majority of Texans voted to ban same-sex marriage and other similar arrangements. In fact, the article basically insinuates that the UT administration supports "creative" legal strategies to get around that provision of the Texas constitution. Click here to read the Daily Texan article about the UT administration endorsing domestic partner benefits. This article is a real doozy. The article notes that University of Texas at Austin President William Powers attended a summit organized by the Pride and Equity Faculty and Staff Association and Equality Texas. (Note: Equality Texas used to be called the Lesbian and Gay Rights Lobby.) The article reports UT President Bill Powers as saying:
“This is about equity, human rights and human beings, and it affects the competitiveness of our University when we recruit people,” Powers said in a welcome speech. “There are things, if we are creative, that can be done. This is important work. It’s wide-ranging work.”
Gee, I wonder if this means the conservatives in the Texas Legislature will start getting serious about controlling the UT administration's spending and tuition increases.
Further the article states:
This means when potential hires are weighing their options, many won’t choose UT because they don’t offer benefits, said Karen Landolt, chairwoman of the association’s domestic partnership benefits committee and senior associate director of MBA Career Services at the McCombs School of Business. “The University does not get many top candidates in faculty and administrative and staff hires because the University doesn’t offer insurance benefits to same-sex partners,” Landolt said. “For people who care about diversity and civil rights, even if they are heterosexual, they don’t want to go to a university that doesn’t have that kind of environment. We’ve lost entire lines of research because faculty members have left.”
Will the State of Texas wither if its state university doesn't have Queer Studies or Play-the-Race-Card Studies research? Hardly. Most of the people who would be turned off by the fact that the State of Texas supports family values are the kind of people who would probably be happier in San Francisco or Berkeley, anyway.
The article further goes on to say:
Cloud said many supporters are now using the term “competitive insurance benefits” because it illustrates the relationship between the benefits and UT’s success as a top university. Additionally, the development of a “plus-one” benefits program would make it possible for UT faculty and staff to insure any additional adult, such as an elderly parent.
Ever notice how the gay rights lobby has tried not to identify itself as such. The "Lesbian and Gay Rights Lobby" becomes "Equality Texas," same-sex or gay marriage becomes "Marriage Equality," even the name "Human Rights Campaign Fund" is a bit misleading (and even then, the group's bumper stickers only feature two lines -- the name is not prominently featured.) When the gay rights crowd actually identifies what they're for, the public recoils. Even in liberal Austin, most Democratic politicians who accept endorsements from this crowd use acronyms like "GLBT, or LGBT, or BLT" (well, actually the last one's a name of a sandwich, but oh well.) They don't spell it out for the voters. Attempting to call "domestic partner benefits" "competitive insurance benefits" is the same thing -- simply an effort to pull the wool over lawmakers' eyes.
And a quote toward the end from Equality Texas political director Randall Terrell is the icing on the cake:
“Politicians manipulate people’s fear of the ‘other,’” Terrell said. “But Texas is not that conservative. Except in the case of marriage, the majority of issues are coming up pro-[GLBT] in the polls. If you haven’t been active in politics, now is the time.”
Perhaps the reason Mr. Terrell believes that is because, in the past, conservative, pro-family legislators have not been very vocal in higher education issues or in holding the University of Texas administration accountable. In any case, it will be interesting to see whether this issue causes conservative legislators to wake up and recognize that the University of Texas administration does not share their views or values.