Gov. Gretchen Whitmer addressed the State of Michigan after a plan to kidnap her and other Michigan government officials was thwarted by state and federal law enforcement agencies. She started by saying thank you to law enforcement and FBI agents who participated in stopping this [...]
By Tara Cavanaugh
LANSING- Thursday the state House voted to eliminate health insurance benefits for the domestic partners of state employees.
The bills, HB 4770 and 4771, prohibit any government entity in the state – including universities and city governments – from providing such benefits and prohibit unions from including them in collective bargaining agreements.
The GOP attack on domestic partner benefits began this winter when the Michigan Civil Service Commission voted to allow state employees to share health care benefits with an “other eligible adult.” The OEA term is used in place of “domestic partner benefits,” which the state Supreme Court ruled unconstitutional in 2008, after Michigan voters approved an anti-gay marriage amendment to the state constitution in 2004. The state Supreme Court ruled that defining marriage as only between a man and a woman also means that benefits – such as health benefits – should only be shared between those who can legally marry in Michigan.
State Republicans already tried to overturn the MCSC benefits twice this year but failed.
Rep. Dave Agema from Grandville is the primary sponsor of the bills. Attorney General Bill Schuette also supports the bills and has sued the MCSC, challenging the constitutionality of its ability to grant the benefits.
The MCSC is an independent, state constitution-created entity of four officials who administer civil and human resource services. It has existed since 1908. None of its decisions have ever been reversed by state lawmakers.
The benefits for state employees’ OEAs were set to take effect Oct. 1.
“We are ashamed of our Republican lawmakers today,” said Emily Dievendor, director of policy at Equality Michigan. “They continue to attack hardworking gay and transgender citizens rather than rebuilding our state. Anti-gay legislators are pushing a regressive policy agenda that ignores best practices in business and makes our state hostile to gay and lesbian couples. Voters should be outraged.
“Tens of thousands of public and private employees in our state have access to health care benefits for domestic partners. Policies that provide such benefits are used throughout the country to treat employees fairly and retain talented workers. Leaders from Fortune 500 companies, public school districts, and municipal governments across the country know that their workforces are stronger when employees are able to take care of their families.”
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