AG Opinion: public employers cannot offer benefits based on homosexual relationships
YPSILANTI, Mi. — Michigan’s constitution “prohibits state and local governmental entities from conferring benefits on their employees on the basis of a ‘domestic partner’ agreement,” Attorney General Mike Cox wrote Wednesday in an official legal opinion.
A statewide family values group Wednesday said Eastern Michigan University should immediately comply with the opinion by ending its half-off tuition policy for students involved in such homosexual “partnerships” with university employees, as well as other spousal-type benefits provided on the basis of such relationships.
“EMU administrators are not above the law, and evidence continues to mount that their half-off tuition policy clearly violates our state constitution as amended by the people of Michigan,” Gary Glenn, president of the American Family Association of Michigan said. “In light of the attorney general’s official legal opinion, EMU officials should immediately stop violating our state constitution and stop forcing Michigan taxpayers to subsidize and financially reward homosexual behavior.”
Writing specifically regarding benefits offered to Kalamazoo city employees involved in homosexual “domestic partnerships,” Cox wrote:
“The city’s policy accords same-sex ‘domestic partnerships’ a ‘marriage-like’ status. The clear design of the city of Kalamazoo’s policy is to establish a special status for ‘domestic partners’ of the same sex, who share a common residence and financial arrangements, and to use this as a basis on which to confer benefits on the ‘partner’ of the city employee. In the words of (the Marriage Protection Amendment to the state constitution), the city’s policy recognizes same-sex domestic partnerships as a ‘similar union’ to marriage.
Given the broad language of the amendment, there can be little doubt that conferring these benefits constitutes recognition or the acknowledgement of the validity of these same-sex relationships. ?Thus, the City’s policy of offering benefits to same-sex domestic partners violates the amendment’s prohibition against recognizing any ‘similar union’ other than the union of one man and woman in marriage.”
“The provision of benefits itself does not violate the amendment, but the benefits cannot be given based on the similarity of the union or domestic partnership agreement to a legal marriage. In other words, (the constitution) does not prevent the city of Kalamazoo, if it elects to do so, from conferring benefits on persons a city employee may wish to designate as a recipient as long as the benefits are not dependent on the existence of a union that is similar to a marriage as defined by Michigan law,”
(Citation of AG opinion ends)
Glenn said EMU’s half-off tuition and other domestic partner benefits are — as are Kalamazoo’s — “obviously intended to recognize and treat homosexual ‘partnerships’ as if they are equal or similar to marriage, an intent clearly at odds with common sense and public opinion as well as our state constitution.”
Glenn said EMU’s intent to recognize homosexual “partnerships” as equal or similar to marriage is clear in a statement published Feb. 26th by the Ann Arbor News, in which EMU President Craig Willis said: “Our policy is clear. It covers EMU employees, their spouse and children and a same-sex domestic partner, provided the couple can legally prove that they have been together for at least a year.”
Glenn noted that “legal proof” of the length of such a “partnership” is impossible, since state law and now the state constitution prohibit legal recognition of any domestic relationship other than a marriage between one man and one woman.
However, Glenn agreed with Cox that nothing in the constitution prohibits the homosexual partners of public employees from receiving broadly available employee benefits, so long as such benefits are not offered on the basis of recognizing or treating homosexual relationships as equal or similar to marriage.
“Government recognition, not benefits, has always been the issue,” Glenn said.
He said Cox’s opinion “fully, exactly, and precisely validates what we’ve said before and after the election regarding the effects the Marriage Protection Amendment would have on public employers.”
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