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Lawsuit: MSU's homosexual benefits violate state constitution

July 5, 2006

AFA-Michigan lawsuit says MSU violating Marriage Protection Amendment, state law

Family group sues to stop university recognition, spending based on homosexual relationships

LANSING — The co-authors of a Marriage Protection Amendment to Michigan’s state constitution overwhelmingly approved by voters in 2004 are joining forces again to stop what they say is Michigan State University’s unconstitutional recognition and use of public funds to subsidize university employees’ homosexual relationships as if they are equal or similar to marriage.

Gary Glenn, Midland, president of the American Family Association of Michigan, the plaintiff in the case, and Patrick Gillen, Ann Arbor, attorney for the Thomas More Law Center, Wednesday filed suit in Ingham County Circuit Court alleging that MSU’s “use of state funds for the purpose of defining and recognizing…and providing benefits to MSU-recognized same-sex domestic partnerships violates the constitution of the state of Michigan as well as state law.”

Glenn said MSU and other state universities “cannot constitutionally single out government employees involved in homosexual relationships for special treatment, or force Michigan taxpayers to subsidize and incentivize such relationships in violation of our constitution and state law.”

He said MSU’s eligibility criteria for providing spousal-type benefits to employees’ homosexual partners “clearly intends to single out, recognize, and treat homosexual relationships among its employees as if they are equal or similar to marriage, a policy that is now clearly unconstitutional.”

Glenn said while he believes MSU employees’ homosexual partners could be constitutionally eligible for employee benefits under a broader employee benefits program available to all employees, it is unconstitutional to offer spousal-type benefits only to homosexual partners of MSU employees expressly on the basis of that homosexual relationship.

“If MSU doesn’t allow an employee to put her elderly grandmother or little sister on the university’s health insurance, how do they justify singling out only employees involved in a homosexual relationship for special treatment?” Glenn said. “It’s clearly because university officials believe that — the constitution and Michigan voters notwithstanding — homosexual relationships should be recognized as equal or similar to a marriage.”

“We’re asking the state Supreme Court, where we expect this case will end up, to instruct MSU, other state universities, and all government employers that they are not above the law and not exempt from following the state constitution just like the rest of us,” he said.

Glenn also noted a study published by the student newspaper at Central Michigan University, which reported in April 2005 that only 217 employees in the entire state university system were receiving spousal-type benefits on the basis of a homosexual relationship.

“Two hundred government employees who make their living on the taxpayers’ dime should not be allowed to dictate broad public policy or what’s best for a state of 10 million men, women, and children,” Glenn said. “The people of Michigan get to decide what’s best, and Michigan voters in their wisdom overwhelmingly decided that protecting and reaffirming marriage between a man and a woman is what’s best for children and families in our state.”

Michigan voters at the November 2004 general election — with 59 percent voting in favor — approved the Marriage Protection Amendment co-authored by Glenn and Gillen, which reads:

“To secure and preserve the benefits of marriage for our society and for future generations of children, the union of one man and one woman in marriage shall be the only agreement recognized as a marriage or similar union for any purpose.â€?

The amendment reaffirmed and constitutionally protected from legal challenge in state courts Michigan’s pre-existing state law, which reads:

“Marriage is inherently a unique relationship between a man and a woman. As a matter of public policy, this state has a special interest in encouraging, supporting, and protecting that unique relationship in order to promote, among other goals, the stability and welfare of society and its children.”

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