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Michigan Gov. Signs Anti-Domestic Partner Benefits Act

Michigan Gov. Signs Anti-Domestic Partner Benefits Act

 

Michigan Governor Rick Snyder on Thursday signed H.B. 4770, a bill that eliminates healthcare coverage for domestic partners of public employees.

Republican lawmakers said the bill was necessary to prevent tax payers’ money being spent on benefits for lodgers and house mates rather than spouses.  However, LGBT rights groups have offered that this is only a thinly veiled attack on same-sex partnerships.

From the Detroit Free Press:

The measure does apply to municipal and school employees, and to homosexual and heterosexual couples alike. It was primarily aimed at ending the practice of providing benefits to same-sex couples, which was adopted by a handful of cities, schools and most of the state’s public universities after the adoption of the state’s one-man, one-woman marriage amendment in 2004.

Snyder had been under pressure from gay rights activists and others to veto the bill.

But lead sponsor Rep. David Agema, R-Grandville, praised the governor’s decision, saying, “Time and again, Michigan residents have said ‘no’ to paying for the health benefits of the roommates and unmarried partners of public employees, and the governor’s signature today gives the people’s voice the rule of law.”

The ACLU, calling the legislation “mean-spirited,” has promised a lawsuit. Kary L. Moss, the ACLU of Michigan executive director, said in a news release:

“The decision to take healthcare benefits away from families just in time for the holidays is mean-spirited and cruel. Governor Snyder had an opportunity to show real leadership and put an end to the political games; instead he approved an extreme policy that sets our state back, jeopardizes our economy and puts our families at risk. The bill serves no other purpose than to single out a small minority of people and deprive them of critical protections as guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution. We are prepared to challenge this law on behalf of Michigan families in the coming weeks.”

House Bill 4770 passed the state House in September and the Senate early in December. Governor Snyder signed the bill on Thursday but vetoed a separate bill, HB 4771, that would have made domestic partner protections a forbidden subject in collective bargaining agreements.

Both bills were introduced to counteract a Michigan Civil Service Commission decision to ratify a collective bargaining agreement that allowed state employees to share health care benefits with another “eligible adult.”

Due to a concession by Republicans in the state legislature the law should not prevent universities from providing domestic partner benefits, but concern remains that the legislation will undermine the state’s competitiveness.

Michigan’s lawmakers have been heavily criticized for their anti-LGBT stance, including over separate anti-bullying legislation that, critics said, allowed children to bully so long as it was done in the name of their religion.

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Image used under the Creative Commons Attribution License with thanks to brainchildvn.

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50 comments

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8:15PM PST on Dec 29, 2011

To Rebecca L.: If Gay and Lesbian couples were universally afforded the same right to marry that heterosexual couples enjoy, then there wouldn't be a problem. Civil rights IS a pressing issue. When you are a member of the elite group who has rights that are denied to a select group of "others" because of bigotry, that is a HUGE deal. Economic injustice, Cancer, Aids, access to medical care, family stability, etc. are all inextricably tied to the issues of social inequality. Our mutual love of animals and our collective resolve to have them recognized as sentient beings worthy of rights, dignity and respect is indeed important work. Why is the governmental, social and institutional oppression of our homosexual brothers and sisters less important? Of all the possible political causes, I can think of no civil cause more important than the recognition that many tax paying citizens carry an equal amount of the responsibilities and burdens of American citizenship, but are denied many of the rights.

3:08PM PST on Dec 29, 2011

Rebecca L - you are an a hole right? I hope you recognize that right? Some people have rights others don't - that's your stance and I say I hope you have a divorce before you get ill!!

12:36PM PST on Dec 27, 2011

I so very much regret voting for that man. He's a wolf in sheep's clothing and I am deeply regretful for having the 'wool' pulled over my eyes. ARG.

4:35PM PST on Dec 26, 2011

WONDERFUL!! Why should tax-payers have to pay for the healthcare of "partners" that aren't even married. As a tax-paying citizen, I would think it complete BS to HAVE to do so. Does this mean I'm "anit-gay" & "lesbian"? No. No it doesn't. I just happen to think there are much more pressing issues that should get the spotlight over gay rights. Gays & lesbians are NOT in peril in our fine country, so I have moved them to the back of the line. Sorry, but real issues take precedence. Like, seal slaughters, whale obliteration, animal abuse, cancer research, breast cancer, etc., etc.

10:59AM PST on Dec 26, 2011

Before it was "can't get married, but have the same rights" and now they can't even have the same rights? Its BS.

10:24PM PST on Dec 25, 2011

Wise up Gov, your ignorance is showing..and gee, you gonna tell us next that the earth is flat???

6:51PM PST on Dec 25, 2011

Confusing.

7:22AM PST on Dec 25, 2011

Ok, and while they are taking steps backwards, are they going to repeal women's rights to vote and civil rights as well? What are these people thinking?

7:10AM PST on Dec 25, 2011

Shame on the state of MI, this is 2011 – almost 2012 and not the dark ages. Another fine example to cut costs to the expense of human beings that happens to be a minority and therefore vulnerable and often defenseless in the masses of right wing politics. It is a shame – homosexuals are not excluded from paying taxes – so why can they be excluded from receiving benefits that are a given to everyone else?

6:47AM PST on Dec 25, 2011

how uncool and unjust. everyone deserves the same laws to protect them

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