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Scent of Bigotry in the House

Talk about the long arm of the federal government. The House, apparently with nothing better to do, passed a measure Wednesday that purports to undo San Francisco’s lawfully passed domestic partner benefits ordinance. It seems that Rep. Frank Riggs (R-Windsor), who authored the bill, doesn’t like the idea that unmarried couples--presumably gays and lesbians--should have the same legal status as “the sacred union, marriage, between a man and a woman.”

San Francisco’s 1997 ordinance requires city contractors to offer the same benefits to the domestic partners of unmarried employees, whether heterosexual or homosexual, as those extended to married workers’ spouses. Both the city and County of Los Angeles offer benefits to same-sex partners, but neither has gone as far as San Francisco in requiring firms with municipal contracts to expand their benefit programs. San Francisco officials credit their law with encouraging more than 1,800 companies to offer benefits to domestic partners.

Riggs’ measure, which passed by just two votes, would bar the city from applying its own law to contractors who received funding that originated with the federal government.

Congress should not be meddling in municipal affairs. Why should the federal government use its enormous funding clout to encourage local governments to perpetuate discrimination and bigotry? Riggs’ bill should give everyone the chills, and the Senate should move quickly to bury it.

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