American Airlines Responds To Agema Claims, Calls Them 'Baseless'

By Todd Heywood

In the latest blow to former State Rep. Dave Agema's defense of his anti-gay comments in Berrien county this past weekend, an American Airlines spokesperson has called the National Republican Committeemen's comments "baseless."

"While it is our company policy not to discuss comments made by former employees, we find these statements to be baseless. We have long-term policies of inclusion, fairness and equality. Because of this commitment, this week, for the 12th consecutive year, American earned a perfect 100-percent score on the HRC Corporate Equality Index. Our policies speak for themselves," a spokesperson for the company wrote in a statement provided exclusively to Between The Lines.

This past weekend, Agema told a gathering of Republicans in southwest Michigan that American Airlines was forced to offer domestic partner benefits to employees or lose access to San Francisco International Airport. Agema was incorrect, a federal court ruled in April of 1998 that the San Francisco City Council did not have the authority to enforce its domestic partner ordinance - which required contractors with the city to offer such benefits - against airlines as it would violate federal law. In August of 1998, American announced it was offering the benefits after they were requested by employees and because it was in the company's and employees' "best interests."

Agema also alleged the benefits were abused to continuous cover people living with AIDS.

"Folks, they want free medical because they're dying between 38 and 44 years old," Agema told the gathering, according to a transcript provided by the Herald Palladium.

The Michigan Department of Community Health has said his claims do not reflect Michigan's data on HIV and AIDS deaths and has called such "misinformation" a hindrance to public health efforts to confront the disease.


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