Thursday, January 5, 2012

I'm Proud. . .

I'm proud of the brave teachers who are plaintiffs in the American Civil Liberties Union suit over the ban on domestic partner benefits. The American Civil Liberties Union and ACLU of Michigan filed a federal lawsuit today asking the court to strike down a new Michigan law that bans many public entities from providing health care insurance to the domestic partners of their employees.

Two of the plaintiffs are teachers, and they are both teachers in the Ann Arbor public schools. I'm so proud of Peter Ways (Ann Arbor Open teacher) and Theresa Bassett (Slauson Middle School teacher)--and their families. (The other plaintiffs work for the City of Kalamazoo and Ingham County.)

Ways is quoted as saying, in the ACLU press release,
This is not about politics or ideology for us,” said Peter Ways, an Ann Arbor Public Schools teacher whose partner will lose his benefits. “This is about real families who are facing the real consequences of discriminatory laws. Just like our colleagues whose families will continue to receive health insurance, we want to care for our families.”
Kary Moss, the ACLU of Michigan executive director, said, “Although justified by the Governor as a cost-cutting measure, the numbers don’t hold up,” said Kary L. Moss, ACLU of Michigan executive director. “The reality is that the legislation was intended to disenfranchise LGBT families."

According to the ACLU web site, 

Peter Ways and Joe Breakey of Ann Arbor have been in a committed relationship for more than 20 years and have a nine-year-old daughter. Peter works for Ann Arbor Public Schools. The district extends insurance coverage to his partner Joe who is self-employed as a licensed therapist. Being self-employed gives Joe the flexibility to be home for their daughter after school. Due to the added expense that comparable individual coverage will cost, Peter and Joe are considering a move back to Washington so that Peter could take a job that provides family benefits.

Theresa Bassett and Carol Kennedy of Ann Arbor have been in a committed relationship for 25 years and have six kids ranging in age from six to 20 years old. Theresa has worked for the Ann Arbor Public Schools for 28 years and currently teaches 6th grade and 8th grade math. Theresa’s employer extends health insurance coverage to Carol who is self-employed as a daycare provider. Because of Carol’s family history of breast cancer, individual comprehensive insurance coverage will be extremely expensive. In fact, Carol estimates that purchasing comprehensive coverage on her own will cost the family an additional $800 a month, putting considerable pressure on their finances, which are already strained by a mortgage and the cost of sending two children to college.

If you see these teachers, tell them you're proud of them too.
And if you have some change to spare, support the ACLU's work by donating now.


  1. Thanks for sharing. Looking forward to seeing how this plays out in the courts, and the effects of this and other policies on the upcoming mid-season election. I remember Ms. Bassett from my days at Clague and wish her and her family the best.


  2. Thank you so much for highlighting this!!