LANSING- The Michigan Senate Committee on Reforms, Restructuring and Reinventing approved House Bills 4770 and 4771 Wednesday. The bills would eliminate health care benefits for unmarried partners of public employees across the state. They would effectively prohibit any government entity from providing benefits and prohibit unions from including them in collective bargaining agreements. The bills passed along party lines.
“Republican lawmakers continue to attack hardworking gay and transgender people rather than focusing on real issues. They are ignoring best practices in business and promoting a hostile environment for gay and lesbian couples. We hope that voters questions where lawmakers’ real priorities are,” said Emily Dievendorf, director of policy for Equality Michigan.
The Michigan House of Representatives passed the bills by a vote of 64-44 in September. Anti-gay Republicans Rep. Dave Agema, the bill’s sponsor, and Attorney General Bill Schuette have been trying to strip away health care benefits for gay and lesbian couples since February.
“Tens of thousands of public and private employees in our state have access to health care benefits for domestic partners – this legislation, if passed, would have a devastating impact. This is a crucial issue for Michigan – do we really want to be known as a state with such a regressive legislature that we deny equal access to health care benefits? Michigan Republicans are ready to close the door for gay and lesbian couples who want to live here – even if it means dictating human resources policy for local governments,” said Dievendorf.
Over 900,000 Michigan employees of private companies are eligible to offer health care benefits to their domestic partners. Over 20 major corporations in the state provide such benefits, including Ford, General Motors, Chrysler, Dow Chemical and Whirlpool. Several public entities, representing tens of thousands of workers, provide benefits for domestic partners of employees, including the State of Michigan, at least 10 public universities, 5 city and county governments and at least 3 public school districts.
Reported Oct. 19, 2011