By Dawn Wolfe
Despite the fact that over 60 percent of Michigan residents approve of domestic partner benefits for same-gender partners, Representative Ken Bradstreet, a Republican from Gaylord, has taken it upon himself to try to nix those benefits in upcoming state workers’ contracts, according to an AP report filed Nov. 29.
The contracts have already been agreed to by the Governor’s office and five labor unions, according to the report. However, Bradstreet is working on a legislative resolution opposing the agreed-upon health insurance benefits for same-gender partners, and is said to be drafting a letter to Attorney General Mike Cox asking the AG to rule on the legality of those benefits.
According to Jay Kaplan, the staff attorney for the American Civil Liberty Union of Michigan’s LGBT Project, the legislative resolution would not be binding, but the Attorney General’s opinion would carry the force of law.
“It’s (the resolution) basically saying that ‘we don’t want any of that (DP benefits) to be in the contract,'” he said. The resolution could come up for a vote this week. A similar resolution is said to be in the works in the state Senate, but a phone call to Senator Alan Cropsey’s office to confirm the existence of such a resolution was not responded to in time for this story.
The benefits are now under attack because of the passage of the anti-family Proposal 2, which banned recognition of anything other than the marriage of one man and one woman as “a marriage or similar union for any purpose.” Despite the claims of Proposal 2’s supporters that the measure was designed only to protect “traditional” marriage, Bradstreet’s move seems to indicate what many in the LGBT community have claimed all along – that Proposal 2 was really one more salvo in the battle to deny LGBT citizens and their relationships any legal protections whatsoever.
As for how the Attorney General might rule, Kaplan said, “I don’t know. He seems to have a conservative bent on other issues, but we hope that he wouldn’t interpret Proposal 2 too broadly. We would hope he would recognize this ambiguous language for what it is, and we think that Bradstreet as well as the AG should remember what the proponents of Proposal 2 said all through the campaign.”
Reading from a pro-Proposal 2 campaign brochure, Kaplan quoted, “Page two says ‘this is not about rights, or benefits, or about how people choose to live their life.'”
He added, “It’s disingenuous of Representative Bradstreet to say that the majority of voters knowingly, in voting for Proposal 2, knowingly were voting for prohibiting domestic partnership benefits, given the statements of the proposal’s proponents.”
Kaplan and the ACLU stand ready to protect domestic partnership benefits for LGBT families.
“If the AG issues an opinion saying that [Proposal 2] prohibits domestic partner benefits, we will sue in Federal Court,” he said.
The battle for domestic partnership benefits is on. Make your voice heard in this matter by contacting the following:
Representative Ken Bradstreet, (R) Gaylord: 517-373-0829 or email@example.com.
Governor Jennifer Granholm, 517-373-3400.
Michigan House Speaker Rick Johnson, (R) LeRoy: 517-373-1747 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Attorney General Mike Cox, 517-373-1110 or (toll free) 877-765-8388 or email@example.com.
To locate your state legislators and urge them to vote against the anti-family resolution opposing domestic partner benefits for same-gender couples, visit www.vote-smart.org.
For more information about the ACLU of Michigan’s LGBT Project, including how to donate, visit www.aclumich.org and click on the “Special Projects” button.