FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Thurs., May 24, 2007
CONTACT: Gary Glenn 989-835-7978
Amendment co-author welcomes court move
Pro-marriage group applauds ruling, urges government and university employers to “obey the law” on homosexual benefits
Benefit plans offered to all employees would be allowed
LANSING — The Michigan Supreme Court will uphold an appeals court decision that the state’s Marriage Protection Amendment — approved by nearly 60 percent of Michigan voters in 2004 — prohibits public employers from recognizing homosexual relationships as equal or similar to marriage for the purpose of providing taxpayer-financed benefits to government employees, a family values group that first proposed and co-authored the amendment predicted Thursday after the high court announced it will hear the case.
“We’re confident that the Supreme Court will uphold the clear language of the Marriage Protection Amendment and the clear intent of Michigan voters that homosexual relationships not be formally recognized for any purpose, including to force taxpayers to provide spousal-type benefits to a tiny special interest group of a couple hundred government employees,” Gary Glenn, president of the American Family Association of Michigan said. Glenn and Thomas More Law Center attorney Patrick Gillen co-authored the amendment.
“In the meantime, we urge state and local government officials and university administrators to honor the will of the voters, obey the law, and follow the Supreme Court’s order that the appeals court ruling prohibiting government benefits based on recognizing homosexual relationships now takes immediate effect,” Glenn said.
In an amicus brief last year to the Michigan Court of Appeals, AFA-Michigan documented that prior to the 2004 election, prominent spokesmen on both sides of the issue repeatedly told voters and the news media that the amendment would eliminate public employee benefits specifically based on government recognition of homosexual or other “domestic partnerships.”
Those prominent voices included the American Civil Liberties Union of Michigan, which filed the lawsuit before the court challenging the amendment, the Triangle Foundation, a Detroit homosexual activist group, and Between the Lines, a Detroit homosexual newsmagazine, Gov. Jennifer Granholm, the Michigan Education Association, and the Michigan AFL-CIO — all of whom have argued in court that the amendment does not affect “domestic partner” benefits.
The Coalition for a Fair Michigan, the registered campaign committee that opposed the amendment, also told voters that approval of the amendment would eliminate so-called “domestic partner” benefits. Strikingly, the brief cites a news release issued by the Coalition praising Glenn for publicly agreeing with them prior to the election that the amendment would prohibit any public employee benefits plan based specifically on recognizing homosexual relationships as equal or similar to marriage.
“In light of the overwhelming evidence we provided the court documenting amendment opponents’ brazen falsehoods and flip-flops in this case, the ACLU and its allies should be embarrassed to even show up in front of the Supreme Court,” Glenn said.
AFA-Michigan argued in its brief that “the issue before the court is one of government recognition, not government benefits.”
Glenn explained that while the amendment’s language plainly prohibits public employee benefits that are specifically based on government recognition of homosexual relationships, nothing about the amendment prohibits public employees involved in such relationships from receiving benefits as part of a broader plan available to all employees — in other words, benefits not based in any way on a government employer’s singling out or recognizing homosexual “domestic partnerships” or other relationships.
AFA-Michigan’s brief cited, for example, a current proposal by the labor union representing graduate employees at the University of Michigan as the type of benefits plan that could constitutionally include but not be limited to public employees involved in homosexual relationships. The union’s proposed “designated beneficiary” plan would “allow (union) members to insure an additional adult without regard to marital or partner status,” according to a report by Between the Lines.
“Government employers currently don’t let an employee put her sick grandmother or a friend with no healthcare on her government insurance, so how do they justify singling out only employees involved in homosexual relationships for special rights and special treatment?” Glenn said. “The answer is obvious. They argue that homosexual ‘domestic partnerships’ deserve benefits at taxpayers’ expense because they insist such relationships based on homosexual behavior are equal or similar to marriage. which is specifically what the Marriage Protection Amendment prohibits,” he said.
The brief also cites a major newspaper’s public opinion poll suggesting that voters clearly intended to prohibit benefits based on such relationships. A month before the 2004 election, the Detroit Free Press published a poll which found that 53 percent of respondents said they intended to vote in favor of the marriage amendment. “Even more (54 percent) say local governments and universities should not provide benefits, such as health and life insurance, to the partners of gay and lesbian employees,” the Free Press reported.
A month later, 59 percent of voters actually supported the amendment.
AFA-Michigan first proposed the amendment in June 2003, in response to a neighboring Ontario, Canada, court decision legalizing so-called homosexual “marriage” on Michigan’s border.
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