Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Bill James, same-sex benefits, and the big picture

I had been agreeing with Bill James a lot lately. He properly demanded more accountability in the tangled mess involving the DSS Giving Tree -- a mess that I have some personal interest in seeing solved. He's a necessary check on county spending, even if I'd rarely cut the things he wants to cut. He even sent me an e-mail educating me on the wonders of Blu-Ray. I thought we had a good thing going.

Should have known it wouldn't last.

Bill said a cruel thing to fellow county commissioner Vilma Leake during the debate Tuesday night over county benefits for same-sex partners. He might not have thought it was cruel -- still might not think that -- but imagine if Leake had been talking about a son who died of a drug overdose, and Bill had leaned over and said, "Your son was a junkie, really?"

There's been a lot of predictable reaction on all sides. But to spend time and energy worrying about Bill's stray comment misses the bigger point: His side lost. Providing benefits to same-sex couples is a logical step for any business, or government agency, that has a vested interest in the health and goodwill of its employees. It's just common sense.

Jeff Taylor at the Meck Deck blog has it right on the next step in the process -- a heterosexual couple will sue to claim their own benefits. That's fine. It gets us one step closer to the legislative and court decisions that will settle the issue and let people get on with their lives.

In the meantime, if you don't let gay couples marry, but you allow them benefits, it only makes sense to extend benefits to any couple that can prove a long-term relationship. (How about this compromise: No benefits for ANY couples, including married ones, until they've been in a stable relationship for three years. Given the divorce rate, that might save the county a bunch of money.)

These things move slowly, with fine-toothed gears, but over time the wheels turn. The arc of history is bending toward placing gay couples in the same civic space that heterosexual couples occupy. That's where the world is headed, and that's where Mecklenburg County headed Tuesday night. The vote was the story. All the words are just thin air.

68 comments:

Anonymous said...

Keep up the good work Bill!!

Linda said...

Well said, Tommy.

Anonymous said...

Bill James will burn on the lake of Hellfire for his hatred of gays. May God have mercy on his soul.

Anonymous said...

Bill James is typically insensitive. His rationale for making the comment is terribly unfounded, just like his politics. There seems to be a wave of this going around today. The thought that it is okay to say anything, act any old way, then as long as you rationalize it or give some half hearted apology, it is okay. Well, it is not. From Kanye West to the Williams sister who plays tennis, to the Congressman who made the bad comment in front of our President, now Mr. James. What ever happened to manners, respect and common courtesy?

Anonymous said...
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cltindependent said...

Bill James is a bigot. We know that. Even Sean Hannity thought he went to far with a comment a few years ago. I remember him trying to justify himself on Fox. Vilma Leake should not have justified her vote with her son's personal business. Bill James probably in his ignorance thought he was using "homo" as short for "homosexual" and didn't realize it's a slur. To bigots, it's not a slur. He probably though he was saying the same thins as "Your son was gay?" Nothing to see here folks. His district will continue to send him to the County commission because a lot of them think just like him. I'd like to see him run at large, but he's too cowardly to do that because he knows he'd have to get a real job.

Jumper said...

Seems fair to extend benefits. Married people can get them.

Anonymous said...

It doesn't matter if he said "homo" or "homosexual". It's that he made the remark to stir things up and be the ***hole that he is.

Anonymous said...

My question is simply this.WHY is anyone shocked at the question Bill James asked? He obviously was not aware that Vilma Leake`s son was homosexual and proceeded to confirm what she said! It is the media fanning the flames to make this a story. Thank goodness we have a straightforward representative in Bill James.Vilma Leake is just playing her racist card like she has done so many times before.We still do have freedom of speech!

peregrino said...

Wow, Anonymous 4:15. That is the most offensive thing I have ever read on a newspaper blog, and that takes some doing.

I think you may actually be more offensive than Ole B.J. himself.

william said...

HEck yeah 3 years is a good benchmark. I've saved a ton of money since I read in Amy Vanderbuilts ettiquette book that you could wait up until a year after the wedding to give a wedding gift! (And it's usually a nice surprise for them if they're still together)

Anonymous said...

Velma Leake is the one who used poor judgement in her comments. Perhaps she will apologize.

Anonymous said...

How about providing benefits to part-time employees? Is it ok to screw them, or do they have to screw someone in order to get benefits?

Anonymous said...

I think it is time that the Republican Party runs a new candidate against him. It is time that rational Republicans band together to reclaim our party from biggoted blowhards like Bill James

Anonymous said...

Thank you Bill. You are a man of integnity. Your District Constituents thank you. You have our votes and support. We think with open minds and do not need to be driven to the polls in buses. Thanks again. Let the black racist hide behind years of oppression.

Freddy said...

Bill James is a small, bigoted man with a mean streak a mile long. He knew very well that "homo" is an offensive slur to gays the way "nig**r" is to blacks. He knew very well the comment would hurt her; that's the only reason he said it. It's shockingly insensitive behavior, even for the likes of him.

Honestly, every time you think this horribly ignorant and cruel little man has hit bottom, he does something even more loathsome. How can anyone with an ounce of self-respect vote for him? Is his district composed of people with that little sense of morality and compassion? Do they all think like he does? If so, God help them.

Cedar Posts said...

Tommy you are just as guilty.... you equated being a homosexual to being a junkie!

The road to PC correctness is full of land mines!

Anonymous said...

Tommy, does the Observer have any part-time employees? Do they receive any benefits? Do they ever run errands for you? Does it ever cross your mind that they may not have health insurance?

Anonymous said...

Bill James is an insensitive and disgusting bigot. He really did not need to go that far. I do agree, however, that Mrs Leake should not have brought her son's situation into her vote - that is NOT what she is elected to do.

Anonymous said...

I could not agree MORE with this comment. He knew he was on the mic and that it would get picked up - he looks to stir up trouble anyway he can.


Anonymous said...
It doesn't matter if he said "homo" or "homosexual". It's that he made the remark to stir things up and be the ***hole that he is.

4:02 PM

Anonymous said...

I don't know Ms. Leake nor did I know her son, also I don't know James. If Leake's son was a homosexual James comment was in line. If her son wasn't a homosexual James remark was out of line. It's as simple as that.

Anonymous said...

Bill James makes our county look like it is locked in the 1950's. I'm surprised he has not called for an investigation into communist subversives operating in Mecklenburg County! The Democrats are the ones who benefit the most from James remaining in office as they can out-vote him and simply let him make a sorry display of himself and the party for all to see. Why can't the Republican constituency of this county find a more contemporary, respectable, well-spoken politician to voice their concerns...concerns which many of us agree with? We cannot support a "retro - days long gone by" politician like James. We need progressive Republicans to step forward please!

Anonymous said...

Roberts is an idiot and who cares what she says, if the shoe fits, I myself am about tired of hearing about gays and lesbos it seems everyday it's something new, enough already we need to start a hey I'm married to a woman and love her and I have kids try to do things right colum

Shelby said...

THANKS Tommy! So nice to hear a voice of reason from ALL of Charlotte's community's. I have ALWAYS had respect for you and your comments. This one just added to your accolades.

Loyal readers & fans.
Jim & Lane
Shelby, NC

PS - Bill J., we have corresponded personally before. The invitation still stands to visit with our family, 2 children and 4 grandchildren. We are open to ALL views and opinions. Our reputation stands for it's self, as does yours.

Anonymous said...

This is the most positive thing I've read on this site (charlotte.com) in a LONG time. All the comments throughout the day bothered me with all the hate and discrimination. Reading this made me feel a lot better, and realize there are some compassionate, nice people out there. Thanks again - Gay male that had to get my partner on DP benefits during a tough unemployment period. Been together 6 years and counting...

tommy tomlinson said...

Anon 5:41: We've got lots of part-time folks. To my knowledge, they don't get much in the way of benefits. If it were my call, they would. It's not my call.

Cedar Posts: You know better than that. I was talking about the cruelty of the remark, and how you might hear it if the person had died of something other than AIDS. It's about the wrong word at the wrong moment.

Whitehawk said...

Thank you, Almighty God for being our final judge. The cruelty and insensitivity of man blasphemes against you!

Anonymous said...

Well then, even if it's not your call, you might want to think about it and write about it. Businesses hire part-time workers by design--low wage,no benefits=low cost. That makes it possible for you and spouses/partners to have benefits. You say it's common sense for companies to provide benefits, but for many, they don't. Maybe part-time workers are the new homos.

Anonymous said...

Umm...Vilma Leake is supposed to represent her district, not her dead son, when she votes. A district I live in and there is no way I would want same-sex couples to get benefits paid for by me. They are breaking state and Bible law. Her predominantly African-American constituancy have time and again proclaimed that the homosexual lifestyle goes against Bible teachings. I can only hope we can get enough people to realize she is not representing our district, just her own selfishness.

Anonymous said...

To say that he is a fool is a waste of breath. But if you saw the footage of the meeting on TV you'd have seen a fool who is now buying his suits from the Tony Soprano collection.

Anonymous said...

Taxpayers should not have to pay for this period!Bill looks out for people that really work & pay taxes.Thank you Bill, I support you 100%. Tommy you should be writing about the mess at DSS! If we ha real reporters- by the way did you ever finish your education? We would not have the corruption in Charlotte, people would be afraid because it would be reported! We should not have to pay for a lifestyle that is WRONG!

Cedar Posts said...

Tommy I know you didn't mean to be offensive but you make my point, we have to be so very careful what we say.

Bill James shouldn't have said anything. Ms. Leake was going down the road just fine by herself.

Bill needs to learn no to disturb the enemy when they are in the process of destroying themselves.

Frankly I’m embarrassed that in a county with nearly 1 million residents that these board members are the best we could come up with.

Anonymous said...

I posted earlier about having my partner on DP benefits. It was a private company so they can do what they want. However, we don't have any kids, bring in a nice income (paying taxes on it), yet we still pay for public education in this county that we don't use. I don't want to pay for that...quid pro quo, baby!

Anonymous said...

Tommy you sure wasted column space. You must have been desperate for something to write about!
You forgot that Vilma Leake had a problem remembering whether she lived in her district or not.

Anonymous said...

Tommy, I'd go with a slightly different analogy than you used about the junkie. Just to underline the inappropriate nature of his comment.

Let's say, heaven forbid, that Bill James's son (at Annapolis) is deployed and dies serving our country. At some point in the future, if Bill stands up and talks about his death, will it ever be ok for someone to lean over after he sits down and ask "so, your son was a babykiller?"

Why is it ok for him to slur her dead son? Furthermore, how can anyone defend his decision making in saying this, at that time, and rubbing salt in a mother's wound? What a bum.

Anonymous said...

Well said Mr.James, I applaud and support your views. The dumbacrats in this town just don't seem to get it.

Anonymous said...

Maybe James' question should have been:

"Was your son black?".

Because according to the CDC that is the largest demographic group with AIDS...

http://www.cdc.gov/hiv/topics/surveillance/basic.htm

Anonymous said...

I'm po'ed, I'm a 58 year old white male who has worked since I was 15 years old. Never been on the DOLE. Yet I am unemployed, going thru bankruptcy, 6 mos late on house payment and have no insurance. Why the HE!! can't I get anything from the system. I know, I'm the wrong color, not an illegal, to young, to old and not a buttlicker.

Anonymous said...

So, anon 7:52,are you saying that only black or illegal alien buttlickers get benefits?

Anonymous said...

7:52 dude, you don't get anything because you're an ass. Improve your sucky attitude; no one - NO ONE - wants to hear it.

Message to all the hateful people on here: are you proud of yourselves for spouting off and exposing your hatred for humanity?

Anonymous said...

Mr. James does not seem to mind the health benefits that he enjoys. It is a well known fact that due to his inability to hold a real stable job like the rest of us - he has to obtain his benefits from the county. Seeing as county commissioners, while elected, are during office county employees he is vested in the pension system after 10 years. So while his viewpoint and voice are largely useless on the board these days he has become the biggest welfare recipient of them all.

Anonymous said...

This shouldn't be an issue. The real issue is the millions of working people without benefits of any kind. There are 9 million part-time workers in the US who are seeking full-time employment. They work multiple part-time jobs, and pay for their own insurance, or do without.Those of you with benefits walk upon the backs of these marginalized workers, but you fret about whether which partners of full-time employees should get benefits. You should be glad you have a full-time job, period, and that at least one of you gets benefits.

Anonymous said...

Wow stunning, maybe not, the hate on both sides of the issue. HUMANS period. Regardless of sexual orientation, race, religion, economics, social standing we are all equal.

Evovle people. James is a good reason why I left the Republican party. The knuckle draggnig got to be a bit much for my taste. I am sick of the fringe on both sides of the isle.

Anonymous said...

To 837 you are right to get any help you must have multiple out of wed lock children, minority, illegal,and a history of welfare. Maybe a friend at DSS would help!I am sick of PC & the minority deciding what the rest of us want!Bill James is right!Thank you Bill for standing up to that racist woman. I am sick of the race card as well.

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RightnReady said...
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decorativepaintingnc said...

Tommy, thank you for such a thoughtful column. Your words shine wonderfully above the hateful, spiteful drivel some of these folks have said. Bill James probably is a reflection of the general attitudes of his constituency -- what a shame.

Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...

I'm glad some part-time blog aministrator got out of bed and starting removing some of these profane posts.

Anonymous said...

Well, now that the Republicans have lost control of the city government, the county government, the state government, and the federal government, can some of you Bill James supporters please explain to us moderate Republicans how people like Mr. James are helping our party? Exactly how many more elections must we lose to the Democrats before deciding to come out of the Stone Age and stop dragging our responsible fiscal policies down with our "Little House on the Prarie" vision of American society? Can we move on now?

Anonymous said...

replying to:

Thank you Bill. You are a man of integnity. Your District Constituents thank you. You have our votes and support. We think with open minds and do not need to be driven to the polls in buses. Thanks again. Let the black racist hide behind years of oppression.


<--- seriously? open minds? black racist in the same sentence with oppression? no wonder you all need a 'defense of marriage' act in your minds. you don't realize that you've already destroyed yourselves, and that was not because of a gay person, much less any one of color. it's because you have anything but an open mind.

Anonymous said...

re: Well said Mr.James, I applaud and support your views. The dumbacrats in this town just don't seem to get it.

<--- no, you don't get it. this has nothing to do with politics (and republicans vs. democrats), but rather simple human decency and respect for someone's loss. it doesn't matter how or what -- he was beyond insensitive, and should have simply kept his mouth shut. You miss the point.

Even use of 'dumbocrats' ... is that the best you can do? Do you think that means anything to anyone except you? You would be wrong.

Anonymous said...

With all the important things with which our society and elected leaders must deal, why do we get obsessed with what people do with their private parts?

We got lots of people breaking the Ten Commandments every day (lying is one of the big 10). Homosexuality doesn't make the list.

So some people are gay. Get over it. We got stuff to do.

Anonymous said...

Well Tommy boy, I have to disagree with you. Bill James may be rude at times, but he is usually right. Since I have many health issues and my coverage really stinks; and my sister works for the county, maybe I could just use her address, tell the county we are domestic partners now, and I could get coverage paid for by county tax payers, sweet deal. I'm sure I love my sister more than some of these homosexuals love their domestic partners. Just in a different way. Since you think it is alright for gays, you would have to supports me, or that would make you a bigot, and a homo-bigot at that. Does the shoe fit? Must be hard to work for a gay and racial newspaper where you can't say anything anti-gay without risking your job. Have a nice day.

Anonymous said...

Tommy, were you there?
Are you a comm. memeber?
Nope.
Move on.

Zon said...

Really no surprise, here. Bill James is the bigot-in-chief and just represents his constituency. A part of the county that's still angry over the Civil Rights Act and the repeal of slavery. Let the angry little trolls have their representation. History is leaving them behind, so hatred, intollerance and guns are all they have left.

Anonymous said...

Isn't homo short for homosexual? Why is that a "slur" it's a word that describes a persons sexual preference. The only problem here is that this topic was ever allowed into a government meeting. Why would we ever consider offering domestic partner benefits to one group such as the queers and not another such those normal people who are just too lazy or afraid to tie the not.

Anonymous said...

Hetrophobes unite. That damn hetro James and all the others are at it again.

So what if unmarried hetros who live together in committed relationships for yrs and even have kids or buy homes cars etc cant get benefits. Nobody said life was fair.

So hetros are required to get married just to get the same equality as homos? What a one sided crock.

Anonymous said...

It should be politically incorrect to use any type of insult for any race or group of people. It used to be called sterotyping.

Time to be fully consistent or not at all.

When is the last time Velma Leake or libs in general used the word redneck or yankee?

Anonymous said...

Who makes the call on "committed relationship"?

Anonymous said...

Bill James for president!

Anonymous said...

Bla, Bla, Bla... I had Velma as a teacher in 1981 at Independence. A great woman who reminded her students every Friday to "go to church on Sunday" and "watch 60 minutes". But for the sake of God, all of you liberal, knee jerk idiots, get the hell over it! Yes, Bill James is "brash" at times, but the truth is the truth. You so called American's (no African, Spanish, or whatever your trying to promote yourself as, don't get it) have built a great "Nation of the Offended". In this great country, you can be anything you wish, and we have protection to say what we feel. I promise you'll get over having your little feelings hurt. Really! Bill owes Velma, nothing. I only hope he was looking her dead in the eyes when he asked the question. If more people would come out of their shell and call a spade, a spade, the world would be a better place. People, stop picking small chunks of meat off the bone and spend your time being more constructive instead of being town cryers every time the wind shifts.

Anonymous said...

Velma sounded like a good conservative teacher with a touch of liberalism which is ok. Why didnt she practice what she preached and teach her son better so he would still be alive today? Didnt her church teach that homosexuality was a sin and you would die from it?

BJ

rusty44 said...

anonymous: why aren't you out looking for a job, rather than cluttering up this board?

Anonymous said...

Maybe it's time for Bill James to come out of the closet.

Anonymous said...

This writer, like most of them, removes any and all comments that they don't like or that goes up against them harshly. Shame on you Tomlinson for being a one sided wannabe writer. A jornalist? Ha, give me a bleeding break. Remove all the posts that you personally deem upsetting. What a fraud. They are LAUGHING in Raleigh at the N&O because of idiots like you!