Glenn Beck, Debra Saunders falsely claimed Palin supports benefits for same-sex partners of state employees

››› ››› ERIC HANANOKI

Syndicated columnist Debra Saunders and CNN Headline News host Glenn Beck both falsely claimed that Gov. Sarah Palin supports benefits for same-sex partners of state employees. In fact, while Palin did veto a bill that would have prevented state officials from granting spousal benefits to same-sex couples, she stated that she did so because the Alaska attorney general had advised her that the bill was unconstitutional, not because she supported spousal benefits for same-sex couples. She has also reportedly said that she would support a ballot question banning benefits for same-sex couples.

In recent days, syndicated columnist Debra Saunders and CNN Headline News host Glenn Beck have falsely claimed that Gov. Sarah Palin, Sen. John McCain's presumptive vice-presidential running mate, supports benefits for same-sex partners of state employees. In fact, while Palin did veto a bill in 2006 that would have prevented state officials from granting spousal benefits to same-sex couples, she stated that she vetoed the bill because the Alaska attorney general had advised her that it was unconstitutional, not because she supported spousal benefits for same-sex couples. Moreover, Palin indicated in a 2006 questionnaire that she disagreed with the Alaska Supreme Court's ruling that same-sex couples are entitled to the same spousal benefits given to other state employees, and also reportedly said that she would support a ballot question banning benefits for same-sex couples.

In an August 31 column, Saunders wrote that Palin "is not a hard-core social conservative. For example, Palin supported awarding benefits for same-sex couples." Similarly, on the August 29 edition of CNN Newsroom, Beck claimed of Palin: "She is the first administration in Alaska's history to provide benefits to the partners of gay and lesbian employees. So she's not -- she's, she's common sense. ... Real conservatives have common-sense values, and they'll look at things and say, 'OK, I believe in traditional marriage. But why would I stop somebody from getting, you know, benefits, they've lived together for 20 years?' " Beck later added, "I have to know more about Sarah Palin, but what I do know, if she is who I think she is, I'll pull the lever for John McCain."

However, as Media Matters for America has documented, while Palin vetoed a bill in 2006 that would have prevented state officials from granting spousal benefits, her actions followed a 2005 Alaska Supreme Court ruling that the state's policy of denying spousal benefits to same-sex partners of public employees violated the Alaska Constitution and a 2006 state Supreme Court order requiring the state to issue regulations granting such benefits by January 1, 2007. Palin stated that she vetoed the bill because the Alaska attorney general had advised her that the bill was unconstitutional, citing the attorney general's stratement that the bill "effectively eliminated the regulatory process as a way to comply with the Court's order," and not because she believed same-sex partners of public employees should receive benefits. Indeed, in the veto message, Palin's office stated that she disagreed with the Alaska Supreme Court's actions: "The Governor's veto does not signal any change or modification to her disagreement with the action and order by the Alaska Supreme Court."

Further, in a written questionnaire Palin completed during her 2006 gubernatorial campaign, the conservative group Eagle Forum Alaska asked: "Do you support the Alaska Supreme Court's ruling that spousal benefits for state employees should be given to same-sex couples?" Palin replied: "No, I believe spousal benefits are reserved for married citizens as defined in our constitution." The Anchorage Daily News also reported on August 6, 2006, that Palin believes "[e]lected officials can't defy the court when it comes to how rights are applied, she said, but she would support a ballot question that would deny benefits to homosexual couples."

As Media Matters has noted, the Associated Press falsely suggested in an August 29 article that Palin supports benefits for same-sex partners of state employees. Similarly, on the August 29 edition of PBS' NewsHour with Jim Lehrer, New York Times columnist David Brooks asserted of Palin: "She's evangelical, but she's pretty progressive on gay and lesbian issues." Brooks offered no evidence for his assertion.

From the August 29 edition of CNN Newsroom:

JOHN ROBERTS (host): So Glenn, you mentioned that she is a dyed-in-the-wool conservative here. Now, some of the outrage here, if we are to look at the announcement, where they mentioned Geraldine Ferraro and Hillary Clinton as paradigm-breakers for the Democratic Party. If part of this pick is designed to appeal to those Hillary Clinton voters who feel disaffected by the fact, A, that she did not win the nomination, B, that she was not chosen as the vice-presidential running mate, those people may be slightly to the right of center in the Democratic Party in terms of issues like national security, but they would hardly be described as conservatives. How does this ticket appeal to those voters?

BECK: Because she's -- because she's a conservative. Now, listen, we're very early on the curve on here. So I'm speaking here with just what I know at this point. But when you look at her on the surface, she is somebody who does defend traditional marriage. She opposes same-sex marriage. However, she is the first administration in Alaska's history to provide benefits to the partners of gay and lesbian employees. So she's not -- she's -- she's common sense. What -- too many conservatives have allowed the Republican Party to be shaped by people who are not common sense.

It's exactly the same thing that happened with the NRA. Before Charlton Heston got involved with the NRA, the NRA was about to implode on itself, because there were people who said, "No compromise ever. If I want a tank, I can have a tank." Finally, the common-sense people said, "There's no reason for a tank. We can compromise on some things. You don't need every single possible weapon at your disposal. We understand what the Second Amendment is for. It's not about hunting; it is about protection. But there are some common-sense things that we can unite on." The NRA transformed and went from imploding to becoming a real force.

The same thing with the Republicans. They're about to implode, because they have -- they have lost their way. Real conservatives have common-sense values, and they'll look at things and say, "OK, I believe in traditional marriage. But why would I stop somebody from getting, you know, benefits, they've lived together for 20 years? Would I stop somebody from their life partner going to visit them in the hospital? That's ridiculous."

ROBERTS: Glenn, you've made no secret of your distaste for Senator John McCain. The fact that he has now chosen Governor Palin as his running mate, does that square things with conservatives that he still has a problem with?

BECK: I will tell you this. It has made me -- I just said to somebody last night, and I'm a quasi-fan of Mitt Romney. And I said just last night, even if he puts Mitt Romney on there, I cannot put my hands on that lever and pull it down. Sarah Palin, because I believe she's exactly the kind of reformer that the Republicans need, where Mitt Romney or anyone else that was running before was not, she may -- I will today tell you, I may pull the lever for John McCain. I have to know more about Sarah Palin, but what I do know, if she is who I think she is, I'll pull the lever for John McCain.

Posted In
Diversity & Discrimination, LGBTQ, Elections, Government
Network/Outlet
CNN
Person
Glenn Beck, Debra J. Saunders, Sarah Palin
Show/Publication
CNN Newsroom
Stories/Interests
2008 Elections
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