While all eyes were on Massachusetts, it
was left to Syracuse to actually advance the cause of universal health
care. Ignoring the legislative follies in Washington, Nancy Cantor and
Syracuse University have decided to extend medical benefits to
unmarried straight couples. In its ever expanding efforts to be a model
employer, the University of Cantor already offers a generous package to
married couples and to gay couples as well. If the trustees approve, SU
will soon be issuing little plastic cards to unmarried cohabiting
heterosexuals. No filibusters, no committee votes, no concessions to
the gentleman from Oklahoma, just throw blanket coverage over the
category of people previously referred to as “living in sin” and be
done with it.
If only Chancellor Cantor ruled the world.
Back when life was simple, gay couples
were not granted benefits. One of the arguments used to deny gay people
the right to get their lover’s strep throat treated was that gay and
lesbian couples do not have children. Then several sneaky gay couples
cheated their way around that bigoted assumption by going out and
having children. Some people will stop at nothing to be themselves.
Now the university covers gay couples.
By the way, the university insists on using the term “same sex
couples.” I will not. I remain the holdout. There is no such thing as
“same sex.” Sex is like a river: You can’t swim in the same river
twice. Although you feel at times like you’re in a rut, truth is that
you can’t have the same sex twice. (Don’t try this at home.)
In a time when good health care is hard
to come by honestly, I’m a little worried about where this might lead.
If you thought the process by which Congress was getting you coverage
was sketchy, hold on to your hat. We have yet to see what people will
be willing to do for some coverage.
“Hmmm,” says the lady behind the counter
at Dunkin’ Donuts, “I feel a sore throat coming on. Maybe it’s time I
headed over to Lucy’s Surfer’s Bar to make some time with that cute
sociology professor. If things go well, I can move in and get some
amoxicillin in time for the weekend.”
Or the aging runner who feels a knee
replacement might soon be in order. Freelance writing and painting
houses in the summer doesn’t cover orthopedic surgery, so every day as
he plods the same route through the university area, he keeps his eye
on the prize. That single lady on Euclid Avenue who works at the
library opens her door one day to find a man in Gore Tex and Adidas
offering to shovel her snow and rake her leaves if he can just get his
name on the cable bill.
It gets worse. It won’t be long before
we start seeing the homeless guys under Interstate 81 holding signs
saying, “Will snuggle for dental.”
The slippery slope is turning into a grease trap. “Not now, I have a headache” could soon become “Right now, I have a headache.”
Although no one will say it, it does
appear that the Cantor rules extending benefits do hinge on one thing:
people having sex. Granted that one of the traditional functions of a
college education is to teach young people how to have sex indoors, but
this is a step beyond.
How else do you define an unmarried
heterosexual couple? If you live with your mom, does she get the
bennies? Not likely. What about your cousin who lost his license and
had to move into your basement so he could walk to work? Out of luck.
That roommate you took in to help pay the rent? How is anyone to know?
What if I’m your Facebook friend—shouldn’t I get to see the doctor?
What about platonic couples? Does that
count? Not likely. If you want the Pap smear, sweetheart, you’ve got to
put out. Sorry fella, that rusty knee is gonna take a little more
pounding before you can change it out.
So if coital communion is the ticket to
coverage, then soon it becomes a numbers game. Is there some kind of
minimum required for the benefits to kick in? Is there a cutoff at the
upper limit? Some box on a form we’ll have to check off? I don’t think
you want to put that kind of data on a form—it could lend a whole new
meaning to the term “tenure.”
Senator Brown—please save us from ourselves. End the insanity. If you won’t cover yourself, cover us.
Meanwhile, thanks, Nancy. She’s got our back.