FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Monday, June 4, 2007
CONTACT: Gary Glenn 989-835-7978
City Manager Ken Collard 269-337-8047
City Attorney A. Lee Kirk 269-337-8185
Amendment co-author welcomes city’s compliance
Family group applauds Kalamazoo cancellation of homosexual benefits,
urges Granholm, universities, local government officials to follow suit
Amendment still allows benefits offered to all employees
KALAMAZOO — A statewide family values group Monday commended Kalamazoo city officials — thirty-one months after Michigan voters approved a constitutional amendment defining marriage as the union of one man and one woman — for finally obeying a court order prohibiting the city from recognizing homosexual relationships as equal or similar to marriage for purposes of providing taxpayer-financed spousal-type benefits to the homosexual partners of city employees.
Gary Glenn, president of the American Family Association of Michigan and one of two co-authors of the Marriage Protection Amendment approved by nearly 60 percent of Michigan voters in 2004, said he is “encouraged that politicians and bureaucrats intent on forcing taxpayers to subsidize homosexual behavior among government employees are finally concluding that legally, they have no choice but to obey the law and honor the will of the people.”
“We urge Gov. Granholm and other state and local government and university officials to follow Kalamazoo’s lead, honor the will of the voters, and obey the Supreme Court’s order that the ruling prohibiting taxpayer-financed government benefits based on recognizing homosexual relationships is now in effect,” Glenn said.
Kalamazoo City Manager Kenneth P. Collard in a May 31st memorandum notified Mayor Hannah McKinney and members of the Kalamazoo City Commission that spousal-type benefits for the homosexual partners of a handful of city employees will end June 30th.
“In February of 2007, the Court of Appeals…held that (the Marriage Protection Amendment) bans benefits to domestic partners. The Court of Appeals ordered that its decision take immediate effect,” Collard wrote.
“In March of 2007, the Court of AppealsÃ‚â€™ decision was appealed to the Michigan Supreme Court and on Friday, May 25, 2007, the Supreme Court decided to hear the case, but will not stay the Court of Appeals ruling while they make their decision,” he wrote.
“Therefore, effective June 30, 2007, the City is terminating domestic partner benefits.”
Glenn expressed confidence that “the state Supreme Court will uphold the clear language of the 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 statewide.” Glenn and Thomas More Law Center attorney Patrick Gillen co-authored the amendment.
In an amicus brief last year to the Michigan Court of Appeals, AFA-Michigan cited 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.
Also in the brief, 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 based specifically 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, Between the Lines, a Detroit homosexual newsmagazine, Gov. Jennifer Granholm, the Michigan Education Association, and the Michigan AFL-CIO — all of whom after the election 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, the amendment would not prohibit 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 trying to continue to single out only employees involved in homosexual relationships for special rights and benefits?” Glenn said. “The answer is obvious. They argue that homosexual ‘domestic partnerships’ deserve benefits at taxpayers’ expense because they insist homosexual relationships are equal or similar to marriage. which the Marriage Protection Amendment specifically prohibits.”
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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