Michigan House Bans Domestic Partnership Benefits
Domestic partners of Michigan state employees were supposed to start getting state benefits on October 1, but the Republican-controlled state House is having none of that:
The bills, HB 4770 and 4771, prohibit any government entity in the state - including universities and city governments - from providing such benefits and prohibit unions from including them in collective bargaining agreements.
The GOP attack on domestic partner benefits began this winter when the Michigan Civil Service Commission voted to allow state employees to share health care benefits with an "other eligible adult." The OEA term is used in place of "domestic partner benefits," which the state Supreme Court ruled unconstitutional in 2008, after Michigan voters approved an anti-gay marriage amendment to the state constitution in 2004. The state Supreme Court ruled that defining marriage as only between a man and a woman also means that benefits - such as health benefits - should only be shared between those who can legally marry in Michigan.
The bills' sponsor argued that "It is not the responsibility of taxpayers to support the roommates and unmarried partners of public employees," which is just a lovely and in no way homophobic thought.
Aside from the glaringly obvious moral problems with legislation denying people health care and other benefits on the basis of who they love, there are legal problems with the bills. Prohibiting cities and universities from offering the benefits may exceed the legislature's authority:
State Rep. Jeff Irwin, D-Ann Arbor, said the House proposal violates constitutional protections for local control and university autonomy and described it as "clearly unfair and discriminatory."
So, in order to allegedly save the state money, the legislature banned entities other than the state from offering domestic partner benefits, and opened the state up to a series of lawsuits? As if we needed more evidence this was about hate, not money.