Posted: 8:57 am Monday, June 30th, 2014

Board of Regents to consider same-sex marriage eligibility in retirement plan 

By Daniel Malloy, Greg Bluestein and Jim Galloway

This morning, the U.S. Supreme Court is poised to deliver its verdict in the Hobby Lobby case, which weighs the religious rights of employers and the right of women to their choice of birth control.

Whichever way it goes, the decision will soak up today’s media attention – and that’s just fine with the state Board of Regents, which today will consider whether to recognize same-sex marriages for participants in a University System retirement plan.

Your daily jolt on politics from the AJC's Political insider blogConsider it the most important clash of state and federal policies since last year, when the Georgia National Guard refused to recognize same-sex marriage – and was ultimately pushed into a compromise by the Pentagon.

From the AJC’s Janel Davis:

The [Board of Regents] vote, scheduled for a Monday meeting, would amend the Optional Retirement Plan to comply with federal tax rules. After a Supreme Court decision last year overturned the Defense of Marriage Act, the IRS issued new rules requiring recognition same-sex marriages in some qualified retirement plans.

More detail from the Athens Banner-Herald, which publishes in a company town:

After the Windsor case, the IRS issued notices in September and in April spelling out how IRS rules would be changed to comply with the Supreme Court ruling, and how qualified retirement plan policies must be change. The IRS also specified that marriages will be recognized under a “place of celebration” rule; that is, a same-sex marriage is valid in the eyes of the IRS if it’s legal in the state or country where the marriage was performed.

Georgia doesn’t recognize same-sex marriage, so Monday’s vote won’t affect other University System of Georgia benefits denied to same-sex spouses, such as health insurance coverage.

***

But speaking of the U.S. Supreme Court, the Gallup organization today welcomes the high court bench to the Island of Misfit Toys:

Americans’ confidence in all three branches of the U.S. government has fallen, reaching record lows for the Supreme Court (30%) and Congress (7%), and a six-year low for the presidency (29%). The presidency had the largest drop of the three branches this year, down seven percentage points from its previous rating of 36%.

***

Early voting for the runoffs starts today. Find your early polling place on the Secretary of State’s website. And don’t forget this, from our AJC colleague Kristina Torres in today’s paper:

Because the state conducts an “open” primary, voters last month were able to pick their choice of ballots regardless of any political affiliation. Not so for the July 22 runoff. As a voter, you must stick with the party ballot you chose for the main primary May 20. (In other words, you can’t cast a Democratic ballot in the main primary and then vote in a Republican runoff.) Important: If you did not vote in the primary, you may still cast a ballot in the runoff. And you can pick the party ballot of your choice.

David Perdue and "Uncle Si"

David Perdue and “Uncle Si”

***

Jack Kingston, one of two remaining Republicans in the race for U.S. Senate, has a 10 a.m. presser today to talk about national defense and Georgia’s military bases.

On Sunday, his rival, David Perdue, was in at a Rock Springs, Ga., church, getting a little “Duck Dynasty” love from Uncle Si.

***

Former Pennsylvania U.S. senator and presidential hopeful Rick Santorum is backing trucking executive Mike Collins in the 10th Congressional District GOP runoff. Santorum’s unapologetic social conservatism might seem more in line with minister Jody Hice, but don’t forget Santorum served in Congress with Collins’ father, former Rep. Mac Collins. From the press release:

“Mike Collins is a rock-solid conservative who will be guided by the U.S. Constitution in Congress,” said Santorum.  “Most importantly, Mike has laid out a bold plan of conservative policies that will push back overbearing federal regulations, revitalize the entrepreneurial spirit and provide more opportunities for blue collar Americans. We need more conservative businessmen like Mike Collins in Congress.”

***

In the 11th District congressional race, former state senator Barry Loudermilk is out with his first TV ad of the runoff period. It’s pure bio:

***

U.S. Rep. Rob Woodall, R-Lawrenceville, spoke to the Gwinnett Daily Post about his expected temporary takeover of the conservative Republican Study Committee next week. Said Woodall:

“This is an affirmation of what I would call a 7th District leadership style,” said Woodall, referring to his Gwinnett- and Forsyth-based district. “This district isn’t about blaming people for things; it’s about trying to find solutions. …

“This Republican Study Committee is important in the process. … If it isn’t functioning properly, Congress isn’t functioning properly. That’s why I agree to take this challenge on.”

***

The Savannah Morning News endorsed state Sen. Buddy Carter in the First Congressional District Republican runoff. It requires a subscription but Peach Pundit clipped part of it.

***

It will be interesting to see where this goes. Politico reports on some of the fallout from the Mississippi U.S. Senate runoff victory by Thad Cochran, which came with the aid of crossover African-American voters:

Already the members of the Congressional Black Caucus are talking about what they want Cochran to do. The wish list is fulling up with ideas like maintaining funding for food stamps, beefing up programs that help poor blacks in Mississippi and even supporting the Voting Rights Act. …

“My hat is off to Sen. Cochran for being as desperate as he was, to actually go out and up front got out and ask for those votes,” said Rep. Hank Johnson (D-Ga.). ” Those votes were delivered and I’m hopeful he will be responsible and responsive to the voters that pushed him over the top.”

***

An interesting take on Gov. Nathan Deal’s recent appointment of Bobby Cagle as the new director of the Division of Family and Children Services, from the AJC’s Bill Torpy:

If history repeats itself, as it always seems to do with the long-troubled agency, Cagle will be filling a box with personal possessions as he leaves in April 2016.

It’s the state’s most impossible, no-win, politically dangerous job, a position almost certain to end in failure and frustration. Since 1997, Cagle is at least the 10th (it’s hard to keep an exact count) director of the agency charged with overseeing the safety of Georgia’s children. It’s like “Groundhog Day”; that is, if the movie featured battered and burned children.

***

Before you wade too deeply into the Cobb County case of Ross Harris, who has been charged with felony murder after leaving his toddler son in a hot car, consider these paragraphs from the AJC’s Bert Roughton:

Frankly, a public debate so steeped in ignorance has succeeded only in hardening public opinion against Harris. While I am as bereft of the facts as anybody else, I do fear that no matter what happens, Harris will never escape the condemnation that has already settled in so many minds.

The information void deepened and filled with wanton speculation because Cobb police have been so amazingly unwilling to share even the basics. In fact, Cobb police have made clear little more than that they believe their murder charges are justified. Trust them. The public shouldn’t worry its pretty little head over the facts.

Cobb investigators no doubt are working very hard to make their case. No one wants to undermine their investigation, but should they refuse to give the most basic of accounts just because they believe they can? Shouldn’t they be disclosing all that they can instead of as little as they can?

While no one wants the police to be irresponsible, it seems generally helpful in a free society that police are transparent as they can.

For a contrast, look at the way Gwinnett County police handled the arrest of Recardo Wimbush Sr., the former Georgia Tech football star, and his wife on charges of cruelty to children. Gwinnett police immediately provided a useful narrative allowing a basic understanding of what happened. Whatever public discussion ensues will at least have the benefit of a clear set of official facts. And a broader understanding of what the police know and are thinking would even allow the public to challenge investigators’ assumptions and perhaps provide more information.

55 comments
FranInAtlanta
FranInAtlanta

Differing sex marriage partners can choose or not whether to do the survivor thing. If there is money from another source, depending on health of each of the partners, it can be a poor choice.

Li'le Bill
Li'le Bill

I wonder if Ol' Si got a personal invite to David Perdue's multi-million dollar mansion at Sea Island? You won't catch David Perdue riding around in an old station wagon like Jack. Perdue is a 1%ter and out of touch with your average Georgian.

NWGAL
NWGAL

If corporations are people, will they be tried for murder or manslaughter if their products or processes kill? Right now they just get fines. Sounds like they get all of the beneifts of personhood and none of the negatives

creative
creative

I find it amusing how you people care so much about something that has zero effect on you.  Both sides of this argument are dumb and get's the carzy feminists and the crazy christians to fight each other.  I wish they would all go away

PoliticalOutsider
PoliticalOutsider

Strange how Loudermilk only talks about " Barack Obama's big government take-over". I wonder why he didn't mention his own political agenda? Obviously that is something the voters would like to hear about.

So Barry, why no talk about micro-chips in the brain?; no talk about Agenda 21?; no talk about red light cameras?; no talk about flourscent light bulbs? This race for Congress is all about who is the looniest whack-a-doodle in the bunch. Come on Barry, no sheep in wolves clothing. Tell us exactly who you are and what you stand for. Don't gravitate to the middle in an attempt to hide your insanity!

JAWJA
JAWJA

Why isn't Rocksprings tax exempt status removed? Sonny practically ran his campaign from the "church."  CD's of sermons are available that prove it is a political hotbed. Remarks made in the sermons about Chelsea Clinton several years ago (she is not nor never has been running for an office) remove all doubt as to the lack of character  and human decency. Appears to be a rite of passage that every GOP candidate in Georgia has to be run through that "church".

The_Centrist
The_Centrist

Thad Cochran will not be repaying Democrat crossover voters.  This is undoubtedly his last term due to age and his dwindling base.  He no longer needs to pander to Democrats.

td1234
td1234

If one read the first few comments on this blog then they would think the sky was falling.


The contraceptive mandate was just another example of government overreach into attempting to micromanage ( socialism regulation to control) a business. The SCOTUS told them no. 


People are free to work wherever they wish too and under what conditions they wish to work. If a person believes a company they want to work for offers abortifacient drugs then Hobby Lobby is not the company for them to work for and they should seek employment somewhere that offers these drugs as a benefit.    

honested
honested

Well, based on Congressman woodall's careful analysis, the House is BROKEN.

GaBlue
GaBlue

BREAKING NEWS: 


RELIGIO-FASCISM WINS!

Derwin0
Derwin0

Fyi, It was not a church in Rock Springs, GA that Purdue was at.  It was Rock Springs Church in Milner, GA (Lamar County) that Purdue was at.  Rock Springs, GA is up north in Walker County.


Does the AJC not edit/check anything anymore?

LogicalDude
LogicalDude

" Leaking info to the press would only contaminate the potential jury pool."


Which seems to be why they are leaking the limited information that they are leaking.  It's a tragedy for the child and family. 

Now what if cops did an analysis on your computer.  Would they find information about hot cars?  Did you search for it because you have a child and want to kill it? Or did you see a tragedy like this occur and searched for more information? 

John53
John53

Law enforcement and prosecutors should release as little as possible concerning an ongoing investigation and arrest until the case is tried--and I am a former award winning journalist. To do otherwise impedes the process. Cobb County has already released more than it should have done in this case"

DS
DS

"Shouldn’t they be disclosing all that they can instead of as little as they can?"

No. Top priority for Cobb Police now is to deliver a clean set of evidence to the DA office so they can prepare for a fair trial. This case should be tried in court, not in the media. Leaking info to the press would only contaminate the potential jury pool.

I'm deeply upset by what I've read of this case so far, but I'd be much more upset if the case got messed up so a trial couldn't allow a jury to hear evidence and deliver a verdict.

GaBlue
GaBlue

Hobby Lobby's yarn selection sucks anyway. Beyond that, I am not comfortable with the notion that corporate employers get to dictate intimate details of an employee's personal life that has nothing to do with the performance of his or her job. You either offer insurance to your employees or you do not. 


What the doctor and patient decide in the privacy of the doctor's office is none of the CEO's beeswax.


DADDY-STATE religio-fascists need to get over themselves already. Arrogant bullies.

Kamchak
Kamchak

@NWGAL 

I will believe corporations are people when they can be sentenced to die by lethal injection.

honested
honested

@The_Centrist 

Of course maybe the teaklan will side with the Democrats and elect the Democratic Candidate in November as a last ditch effort to enact their vengeance.

Stranger things have happened in the last few cycles.

RoadScholar
RoadScholar

@td1234 While the company does not have to pay for contraceptives, do they offer them if the employee pays 100% for them?  Does the array of HC plans nee to have one that has contraceptives in it? If not they are denying the employee their rights!

DS
DS

@td1234, it seems this ruling is very, very narrow and will have no effect on most people. Contraceptives will still be covered except in very particular circumstances, and even then, there are work-arounds.

I still disagree with the reasoning used in this decision. I think the 5 "conservative" justices broke with tradition and introduced a new way of thinking about the law. Talk about judicial activism! Who knows where this might lead.

honested
honested

@td1234 

You might also want to not, the Constitution frees all of us from participating in the superstitions of another.

Luckily, tomorrow marks the beginning of the 'Plug a Thug' era at reproductive health clinics. You know, the places where THUGS show up to protest people doing what is best for them.

honested
honested

@GaBlue 

The broken court fails America again.

Launching us into the 18th century seems to be their goal.

Luckily crazy tony and uncle tom won't live forever.

JAWJA
JAWJA

@Derwin0 Most people who follow the news are aware Rocksprings church is in Milner. GOP candidates, especially Sonny, have used the church as a launching pad for years.

honested
honested

@Derwin0 

Does it really make any difference?

Why do politicians go to churches anyway?

St3mpy
St3mpy

@LogicalDude My first thought when I read that they searched "hot car deaths" is that this may not be the first time this child has been left in a hot car. 

bobbyross1990
bobbyross1990

@GaBlue You need to do some U.S. History research, bub. You don't like it, get the heck out.

Lynn43
Lynn43

@GaBlue I agree with you completely. I will never go into a Hobby Lobby.  Anyone who hates women doesn't deserve what little business I could give them.

JAWJA
JAWJA

@honested @JAWJA Live in the area. Actually, the church offers a clinic for the poor, and, some help to needy parishioners; nothing near the money they take in.  Then the needy folks are brainwashed with Duck Dynasty, Perdues, etc, etc.

DS
DS

@RoadScholar, most contraceptives are still covered at no extra charge. This ruling only applies to a few types, and only if the employer is a family held corporation that declares religious objections.

Even then, the contraceptive types affected in the ruling can be provided in a third party administrator arrangement with no cost sharing. Insurers don't mind, because giving away contraceptives is much less costly than paying for maternity care, delivery care and child healthcare.

The big deal about this case is that these "conservative" justices have decided that corporations can hold religious beliefs. I think they really do make this stuff up as they go along, grasping at straws to reach a verdict they wanted anyway.

honested
honested

@DS 

This is probably the most radical group of judicial activists I have viewed in my lifetime.

Real precedent takes a backseat to invented nostalgic precedent.

td1234
td1234

@honested The Constitution only protects the individuals from the Government interfering in the Religious beliefs of others. A place of business is not the government so therefore can believe and practice its beliefs and if a person does not want to participate then they are free to leave.  

NWGAL
NWGAL

Ed, I wonder how stand your ground laws will come into play.

GaBlue
GaBlue

@honested


Is it irony that the same people who are for "religious freedom" are for controlling what other people do with their bodies, and are against the right of women to make their own medical decisions?


Nah. That's not irony. That's hypocrisy.

Derwin0
Derwin0

@JAWJA @Derwin0 Yes, but shouldn't those who write the news have a clue where something is before publishing it?

Derwin0
Derwin0

@honested @Derwin0 It matters, because it shows how little fact checking the AJC writer does in this story (and likely others).


As for why he went, the Rock Springs Independence Celebration is a huge event in the Lamar/Monroe/Butts county area.  It's called campaigning.

Kamchak
Kamchak

@bobbyross1990 

You need to do some U.S. History research, bub.

And exactly what "U.S. History" is that, sport?

Just askin'.

JAWJA
JAWJA

@honested @JAWJA Rocksprings was once a small congregation in Griffin; outgrew their space and rebuilt in Milner. Lost half their membership because of the radical agenda. Also, former minister was fired in an "alleged" sex scandal. (This was a really funny story: went against everything that was being preached at the "church".

td1234
td1234

@DS " and only if the employer is a family held corporation that declares religious objections"


Not according to Ginsburg in her written descent. She stated clearly that the opinion applied to Sole proprietorships, partnerships and all corporations.  

honested
honested

@DS 

They are just carefully inching toward the 'One Dollar=One Vote" standard under the 'Corporations are People Too" doctrine.

honested
honested

@td1234 @honested 

The Constitution protects against 'establishment' of a state superstition or infringement upon an individual's person by any superstition.

A place of business should be following the law with no exemptions for superstition.

They should be required to make their anti-business superstitious attachment clear before hiring (even though it might be against the law) and have to post it on the front door so nobody accidentally allows their hard earned money to be confiscated for superstitious uses.

honested
honested

@NWGAL 

Well, the Court left the 'traveling buffer zone' (bubble) intact so I figure if you are within your 'buffer' and a thug threatens you, you have no choice but to 'stand your ground'.

honested
honested

@td1234 @DS 

Get a 'big words explained' version of Justice Ginsberg's dissent and you will see how horribly wrong your interpretation is.

DS
DS

@td1234, not exactly. Ginsberg acknowledged that Alito's decision is restricted to closely held corporations. She's just concerned that other corporations of any size, public or private, will seek religious-based exemptions from other regulations by building on the concept of corporate personhood used in this decision.

And proprietorships were already acknowledged to have religious beliefs, since there's no legal separation of the person and the business. It's just closely held corporations that are now viewed as persons practicing religion.

Derwin0
Derwin0

@honested @Derwin0 Not really, Perdue is from middle Georgia.  Not surprising that he attends an event in Middle Georgia.

honested
honested

@td1234 @honested 

tiny dog, 

The infringement of any person's freedom by ANY superstition is clearly the definition in the First Amendment.

Attempt to rewrite it however you will, however without freedom from religion, there is no freedom of religion.

Derwin0
Derwin0

@honested @Derwin0 Spoken like someone who doesn't believe there's life outside the perimeter.


Personally I wish there had been only 50 people, as it was packed.  Kids loved the fireworks show though.

honested
honested

@Derwin0 @honested 

There may be life outside the Perimeter, but I don't need to see it.

I spent enough time in the '50s.