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Federal judge blocks Michigan ban on domestic partnership benefits

A federal judge in Michigan has blocked a state ban preventing public officials from offering domestic partnership benefits, finding that the law is unconstitutional under the Equal Protection clause of the Constitution.

Michigan Live reports:

The decision from U.S. District Judge David S. Lawson grants an injunction which prevents Gov. Rick Snyder and state officials from enforcing the 2011 law prohibiting cities, counties and other public employers from offering benefits to same-sex domestic partners.

A group of five same-sex couples had filed suit against Snyder and the state alleging the law violated the U.S. Constitution by violating due process and equal protection rights. Attorneys for the state had argued the couples lacked standing to bring the suit and had not suffered an identifiable injury as a result of the law.

"It is hard to argue with a straight face that the primary purpose -- indeed, perhaps the sole purpose -- of the statute is other than to deny health benefits to the same-sex partners of public employees," Lawson said, the Associated Press reports. "But that can never be a legitimate governmental purpose."

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