“The (Michigan Court of Appeals Thursday) said a 2004 voter-approved ban on gay marriage also applies to same-sex domestic partner benefits. ‘The marriage amendment’s plain language prohibits public employers from recognizing same-sex unions for any purpose,’ the court said. …Gary Glenn, leader of the Midland-based American Family Association (of Michigan), which supported the 2004 marriage amendment, was pleased with the ruling. ‘The issue at hand is whether or not the government can give formal recognition to homosexual relations as if they are equal to or similar to marriage relationships,’ he said.”
LANSING STATE JOURNAL
Lansing, Michigan – February 3, 2007
Same-sex benefits struck down
Michigan court rules policies violate ban on gay marriage
by Kathleen Lavey
C.J. Thomason and Lisa Feury had high hopes that the Michigan Court of Appeals would uphold a lower court ruling allowing governments and universities in Michigan to allow health benefits for same-sex partners.
But a three-judge panel ruled Friday that such benefits violate the state constitution. Thomason and Feury fear that will put Thomason’s health further in jeopardy.
Thomason has a debilitating medical condition and no money to pay specialists who could help her get back on her feet.
“She wants to work. She’s just not medically able to right now,” said Feury, an eight-year state employee. “I’m not even sure I could put into words how much better our life would be if I were able to cover her under my health plan.”
The state appeals panel said a 2004 voter-approved ban on gay marriage also applies to same-sex domestic partner benefits.
“The marriage amendment’s plain language prohibits public employers from recognizing same-sex unions for any purpose,” the court said. The decision reverses a 2005 ruling from an Ingham County judge who said universities and governments could provide the benefits. A constitutional amendment passed by Michigan voters in November 2004 made the union between a man and a woman the only agreement recognized as a marriage “or similar union for any purpose.”
Gay couples and others had argued that the public intended to ban gay marriage but not block benefits for domestic partners.
Douglas Meeks, president of the board of directors of Michigan Equality, said the ruling is disappointing. “The Fortune 500 companies have all recognized that same-sex partner benefits improve work productivity,” he said. “It’s good business to protect your employees.”
Gary Glenn, leader of the Midland-based American Family Association (of Michigan), which supported the 2004 marriage amendment, was pleased with the ruling. “The issue at hand is whether or not the government can give formal recognition to homosexual relations as if they are equal to or similar to marriage relationships,” he said.
The case will be appealed to the Michigan Supreme Court, said Jay Kaplan, an attorney for the American Civil Liberties Union of Michigan. Twenty-one gay couples who work for the city of Kalamazoo, universities and the state filed the lawsuit. “We’re very disappointed by this result,” Kaplan said. “It’s a misguided analysis, and they produced a heartless result. It was never the voters’ intention in 2004 to take away health insurance benefits from families and children.” Ingham County Circuit Judge Joyce Draganchuk previously had ruled that criteria established by employers to qualify for same-sex benefits don’t recognize a “union” because Michigan doesn’t allow civil unions.
“Employer-defined criteria for the receipt of health care benefits cannot create a union where one does not exist,” Draganchuk said.
You can read the Lansing State Journal article here.