Wisconsin Places Domestic Partnerships For Same-Sex Couples In Budget

It is time…….

….though to hear the GOP talk there is never a good time to enact civil rights and equality into law.

The Joint Finance Committee extended limited legal protections through domestic partnerships for same-sex couples.

The committee approved domestic partnerships and the extension of benefits to domestic partners of state employees on a 12-4 party-line vote.

Under the proposal, the state would extend to same-sex couples 43 of the more than 200 rights and benefits given to married couples under the law, such as allowing domestic partners to take family and medical leave to care for a seriously ill partner, make end-of-life decisions and add health care coverage.

Republicans said they objected because of the extra cost to the state, which is facing a $6.6 billion deficit.  Civil rights has a price tag?

Such benefits would cost an estimated $4.7 million to $6.7 million a year of state tax dollars, according to the non-partisan Legislative Fiscal Bureau. But local communities that already provide domestic partner benefits have reported lower-than-expected costs, the bureau said.

“This could be a good idea but . . . this isn’t the right time to even consider it,” What she meant to say is that there is never a good time to grant rights to gay people…..what will they say back in her district if she stood up for what was just?…..said Sen. Alberta Darling (R-River Hills). “How are we going to say we’re going to expand benefits for anyone right now and have the taxpayers pay for that when we’re all struggling to make ends meet?”  Or we could save even more money and take the same rights away from heterosexuals…..what a savings that would be for the state.

Committee co-chair Rep. Mark Pocan (D-Madison), who is gay, said it’s a matter of fairness to provide basic legal protections and will also help the state in the long run. University of Wisconsin-Madison is the only Big Ten school that doesn’t offer domestic partner benefits, and when researchers and others at the University of Wisconsin System leave, they take valuable research and grant dollars with them, he said.

“Most reasonable, compassionate people in the state of Wisconsin think it makes sense to at least allow basic protections to same sex couples,” Pocan said.

But some opponents have argued such domestic partnerships could violate the state constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage passed by 59% of voters in 2006.

The amendment banned same-sex marriage as well as any legal status identical or substantially similar to marriage, such as a civil union. Amendment supporters have said Doyle’s proposal too closely resembles marriage and wouldn’t withstand a constitutional challenge.

At the request of the Legislative Fiscal Bureau, the state Legislative Council reviewed the proposal and determined the domestic partnerships wouldn’t create a legal status identical or substantially similar to that of marriage because it wouldn’t include some core aspects of marriage.

As part of its action, the committee approved a public policy statement that the Legislature finds it to be in the state’s best interest to create domestic partnerships and that they’re not substantially similar to marriage or inconsistent with the constitutional amendment.

Wisconsin In-State Tuition For Some Undocumented Immigrants In Budget

The Wisconsin Joint Fiance Committee is listening, and as a state we can be proud of the action they took Friday afternoon regarding undocumented workers, and in-state tuition at state universities and colleges.

Back on March 22, I wrote the following.

Why should a bright and capable young person, who has successfully completed high school, and possesses the ability to attend a state university be denied that opportunity simply  because they came to Wisconsin from another country with their parents, having no ability as a child to make life decisions?  Why should anyone wish to force these capable young and keen minds into a permanent economic underclass that will be their fate unless they find the education to meet the requirements of the ever-changing economy?

Today the first step to addressing this issue was made in the Wisconsin Legislature.

Democrats on the Legislature’s Joint Finance Committee pushed through a measure Friday that would allow illegal immigrants to pay in-state tuition at state universities and colleges.

The plan was folded into the state budget the panel will soon forward to the full Legislature. A Republican effort to block the measure failed 4-12 along party lines.

Wisconsin high schools graduate 400 to 650 illegal immigrants annually, and they must pay out-of-state tuition if they enroll at University of Wisconsin System schools or state technical colleges.

The change would give illegal immigrants who live here the right to pay in-state tuition. Ten other states have similar laws.

“This gives children hope,” said Rep. Jennifer Shilling (D-La Crosse).

To get the benefit, students must have resided in Wisconsin for three years, graduate from Wisconsin high schools or earn equivalency degrees here and pledge to apply for permanent residency visas.

For all those who have chided the use of money to assist those who are not yet citizens in this country should recall what I wrote back in March.

Those who complain about social services being needed to meet the needs of the undocumented workers should applaud the proposal by Doyle.  To create a class of educated immigrants with the potential to be future business people, doctors, designers, and everything in between that will all add to the tax base through self-sufficiency should be applauded by everyone.

Ex-President Of South Korea, Roh Moo-hyun, Dies In Apparent Suicide

This is sad.

Former South Korean President Roh Moo-hyun, embroiled in a broadening corruption scandal, died Saturday after jumping from a mountain cliff behind his rural southern home. He left behind a suicide note, his lawyer said.

Roh, 62, had been hiking in the village of Bongha Saturday morning when he threw himself off the mountainside, lawyer Moon Jae-in told reporters.

He was rushed to Busan National University Hospital in the nearby port city of Busan around 8:15 a.m. (2315 GMT) and died around 9:30 a.m. (0030 GMT) from head injuries, hospital officials said.

The former president left a “brief” suicide note for his family, Moon told reporters at a news conference at the hospital.

MBC television reported that Roh said in the note that things have been “difficult” and he felt he had made “too many people suffer.” The note also said Roh wanted his body cremated, according to the report. It did not say how it obtained the note.

Investigators have not seen the suicide note, a Busan police official said. He did not give his name, citing department policy.

President Lee Myung-bak said Saturday that the news was “truly hard to believe” and called Roh’s death “sad and tragic,” presidential spokesman Lee Dong-kwan said.

Roh, a former human rights lawyer, served as president from 2003 to 2008 campaigning as a “clean” politician in a country with a long history of corruption.

But he and his family have been ensnared in recent weeks in a burgeoning bribery scandal.

Last month, state prosecutors questioned Roh for some 13 hours about allegations that he accepted more than $6 million in bribes from a South Korean businessman while president — accusations that deeply shamed Roh.

“I have no face to show to the people. I am sorry for disappointing you,” an emotional-looking Roh told reporters April 30 before departing for questioning in Seoul.

Roh took power after a surprise 2002 election win on a campaign pledge not to “kowtow” to the United States, a pledge that resonated with young voters.

He maintained predecessor President Kim Dae-jung‘s “sunshine policy” of offering North Korea aid as way to facilitate reconciliation, holding a summit in Pyongyang with North Korean leader Kim Jong Il in 2007, the second such meeting between leaders of the wartime rivals.

Roh came from a poor farming family, went to a commercial high school and never received a college education. He studied on his own to pass the difficult bar exam and built a reputation as a lawyer defending students accused of sedition under past military rule. He once was arrested and had his law license suspended for supporting an outlawed labor protest.

Roh was impeached in 2004 for calling on the public to vote for candidates from his Uri Party in parliamentary elections, a violation of the president’s political neutrality. He was the first South Korean president to be impeached. He was reinstated after two months of suspension after a court ruled against the impeachment.

Roh’s public approval ratings fell amid widespread criticism of his economic policies. His security policies, seen by conservatives as too pro-North Korean, also contributed to the bad ratings.

Listen To Final WGN “Kathy And Judy Show” Here

UPDATED

The news was harsh this morning.  “Kathy and Judy” were released from their contract with WGN Radio.

The last show was sad.  How could it not be?

But if you were fans I recommend listening to the broadcast.

It all can be found here.  (There are three one-hour segments.)

I suggest kleenix for the third hour!

Also hear the final song of the Friday broadcast here.

And when you are listening do not forget to let WGN Radio know how you feel!

Tell WGN Radio How You Feel About “Kathy And Judy” Being Fired

Let WGN Radio hear it!  Do not be shy.  The email address is below.  Tell WGN management how you feel about the needless end to the “Kathy and Judy” radio show.  Too often radio management think they operate above the listeners.  Truth is they do not.  Without us listeners, radio management would be unpacking boxes at Jewel-Osco.

wgnradiocomments@tribune.com

In case you have not heard the news about ‘the girlfriends” read it here.

Also hear the final radio show of “Kathy and Judy” here.

Hear the final song from Friday’s broadcast here.

Listeners Upset As WGN Radio’s ‘Kathy And Judy’ Are Off The Air

kj

Markey, 65, a novelist and former columnist at the Chicago Sun-Times, and O’Malley, 63, a former Chicago Tribune columnist

UPDATE

Hear the final song that aired on the Friday broadcast.

Hear the final radio show of “Kathy and Judy” here.

Tell WGN Radio how upset you are with the awful decision here.

Not sure what is happening lately to WGN Radio, a staple on this guy’s radio in the car and at home, but whatever is taking place it is not good news.

The latest slap to the listeners is a tough one to take.  Radio management often tries to make better choices for the ultimate bottom line, but instead of making a better choice makes a dreadful mistake.  Such is the latest move from WGN Radio.

Last week on our way to Klein Flowers in Madison the first thing we did when getting in the car was tuning in “Kathy and Judy” to hear as we went shopping for flower plants.   This week on the way to my parent’s home 90 minutes northwards we listened to the ‘girls’ on the way and had a grand time with them.  Little did I know it would be the last road trip with them….and that makes me sad. 

For years when in the car or here at home “Kathy and Judy” were part of the family.  I always considered myself, as did every other guy who listened, one of the ‘girlfriends’.  We all were labeled that way, and proud of it.  With zip and flair and lots of laughs we came to know and love these ladies.  We knew about their families and dreams, bad times and good.  They were brought into our homes via radio because they were good people that we thought should be invited in.  And once here, we asked them to stick around.  

They will be sorely missed.  They do not need me saying it, but I wish them all the best.   I want to say thanks to Kathy and Judy for the hours of radio broadcasting professionalism, and companionship.

“Labor Day” will never be the same….listeners will understand what I mean.

WGN-AM 720 this morning announced it is discontinuing the “Kathy & Judy” show, the ground-breaking mid-morning coffee klatch that former Chicago newspaper columnists Kathy O’Malley andJudy Markey hosted for 20 years.

The final 9 a.m.-to-noon show for the Girlfriends, as they are known to their fans, was to feature highlights of some of their most memorable on-air moments as well as the remembrances of O’Malley and Markey, who said on the air that they have known for three weeks that their show would be going away.

“We know that for some of you it’s going to take a little time to digest,” O’Malley said. “We’re all going to be OK, and we’re all going to put on our big-girl panties and deal with it.” 

“Kathy and Judy have been a phenomenal chapter in WGN Radio’s rich history,” Tom Langmyer,WGN-AM’s vice president and general manager, said in a statement. “They have a level of personal connection with their listeners that is extremely rare. They’ve shared fun, laughter, joy and a wonderful relationship with their many ‘Girlfriends.’ They will be missed and we wish them much happiness.”