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ASSOCIATED PRESS — Attorney general says marriage amendment bars same-sex benefits

March 16, 2005

“Gary Glenn, president of the Midland-based American Family Association of Michigan, welcomed the attorney general’s opinion. ‘This validates what we were saying before and after the election,’ Glenn said. ‘I don’t think there’s any question the majority of Michigan taxpayers will be strongly supportive of the attorney general’s opinion.'”

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ASSOCIATED PRESS
Lansing, Michigan
March 16, 2005

Attorney general says Proposal 2 bars future same-sex benefits

LANSING, Mich. (AP) — The state attorney general issued an opinion Wednesday saying cities and other government entities won’t be able to provide benefits for same-sex partners of employees in future contracts because that would violate Proposal 2.

Attorney General Mike Cox wrote that the city of Kalamazoo’s policy of offering health and retirement benefits to same-sex partners is banned now that voters have approved a constitutional amendment that says the union between a man and woman is the only agreement recognized as a marriage or “similar union for any purpose.”

Proposal 2 does not affect existing contracts, Cox said, because constitutional amendments generally don’t operate retroactively. Voters passed the measure last November.

Cox said Kalamazoo’s policy accords domestic partnerships a “marriage-like” status, and given the amendment’s broad language, conferring benefits recognizes the validity of same-sex relationships. Cox said Proposal 2 also prohibits recognition of unmarried opposite-sex relationships.

“Regardless of whether there was agreement regarding the effect the proposal might have on domestic partner benefits, one thing that would clearly have been evident to voters was that benefits provided based on the recognition of a “similar union’ were at issue and might be eliminated if the measure passed,” Cox wrote.

Gary Glenn, president of the Midland-based American Family Association of Michigan, welcomed the attorney general’s opinion.

“This validates what we were saying before and after the election,” Glenn said. “I don’t think there’s any question the majority of Michigan taxpayers will be strongly supportive of the attorney general’s opinion.”

But Jeffrey Montgomery, executive director of the gay rights group Triangle Foundation, said Cox’s opinion was wrong.

“Most people did not think they were voting to take health care benefits away from people,” Montgomery said about the constitutional amendment. “We believe most people voted because (the amendment) was talking about the definition of marriage.”

In the absence of a decision from a court, the attorney general’s interpretation of the law generally is binding, Cox spokeswoman Allison Pierce said.

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