Judge Takes Up Michigan Ban on Domestic Partner Benefits
A ban on benefits for domestic partners in Michigan public schools and local governments might not save much money, but that’s not a reason to throw out the law, a lawyer for the state told a federal judge Tuesday.
U.S. District Judge David Lawson is considering whether to overturn the 2011 law as an unconstitutional attack on gays and lesbians. He stopped it with an injunction last summer after finding that opponents’ arguments were credible.
The law, signed by Gov. Rick Snyder, prevents public schools and local governments from offering benefits to unmarried partners of employees, whether homosexual or heterosexual. Supporters insist it was aimed at saving money, not punishing gays and lesbians.
Critics, however, insist that the law in practice hurts gays and lesbians almost exclusively.
Before the law took effect, a handful of school districts offered health insurance to domestic partners, along with Ingham and Washtenaw counties and the cities of Ann Arbor, East Lansing and Kalamazoo, according to the American Civil Liberties Union.
Ingham County said the cost added up to just $16,157 in 2012, or 0.2 percent of what was spent for health coverage for all county employees and their families.