After we were told that the various state marriage amendments around the country were just about "protecting" marriage from gay couples, we're starting to see consequences that go well beyond marriage. In Michigan, an appeals court has ruled that the state marriage amendment passed in 2004 forbids public entities from offering even health benefits to same-sex domestic partners. While the case is pending in the Michigan Supreme Court, one city has decided to drop the benefits it previously offered:
The City of Kalamazoo no longer will offer health insurance benefits to the partners of gay workers, becoming Michigan's first public employer to take away such benefits in the wake of a 2004 ban against gay marriage.
Kalamazoo City Manager Kenneth Collard confirmed Monday that the city will eliminate domestic partner benefits for four non-unionized employees effective June 30. He cited a May 23 order from the Michigan Supreme Court.
The high court agreed to hear an appeal of a state Court of Appeals decision blocking same-sex benefits, but it also let the earlier decision take immediate effect.
"We have no authority, as being a creation of the state, to ignore the (Michigan) constitution as defined," Collard told The Associated Press. The affected employees were informed last week and their partners have about a month to get other insurance, Collard said.
Gary Glenn, president of the American Family Association of Michigan, said public universities and state and local governments should follow Kalamazoo's lead and "honor the will of the voters." . . .
Up to 20 public universities, community colleges, school districts and local governments in Michigan have same-sex benefits policies. Universities, which employ most of those affected, argue that not being able to offer the benefits will hurt recruitment of faculty and staff.
At least 375 university and government employees in Michigan have partners who qualify for same-sex benefits.