Don’t fight Pflugerville

Pflugerville ISD became the first school district in Texas to allow employees to add a domestic partner to their health care plan in December 2012. But that victory for LGBT Texans may be short-lived, thanks to a bill filed last Wednesday.

Texas State Rep. Drew Springer filed House Bill 1568, which would cut funding to Texas school districts providing domestic partner benefits by 7.5 percent. The bill, which has 22 co-authors, has generated significant support. Springer is confident that it “will definitely come to the floor for a vote.”

The bill is not just an attack on LGBT employees in school districts around Texas; it misconstrues the nature of Pflugerville ISD’s policy. As it stands, the PISD policy merely allows a non-dependent household member to be added to the insurance policy at no expense to taxpayers. Daniel Williams, legislative specialist for the LGBT lobbying group Equality Texas, said of the Pflugerville plan, “The premium, the deductible, it gets paid for not by the school, but by the employee or non-dependent household member.”

Springer’s rhetoric disregards the financial reality. He told the Texas Tribune, “I think the money we give to educate our kids should go to the kids and not trying to expand social benefits that we decided in 2005 was unconstitutional.” But PISD is not the only state entity with such a policy. Some cities, including Austin, also offer their employees domestic partner benefits. Instead, Springer’s argumentation has relied on a fallacious appeal to protecting the children in order to advance a thinly-disguised attack on LGBT Texans.

We stand with Pflugerville ISD. HB 1568 is a discriminatory threat to reaching full equality in the state of Texas.