Thursday, May 08, 2008

Michigan Supreme Court: No Health Benefits for Same Sex Partners

According to an Associated Press report, Michigan's Supreme Court that ruled the State's same-sex marriage ban prohibits the State's universities and colleges from providing health care benefits to the same-sex partners of campus employees:

The ban, a constitutional amendment approved in November 2004, says the union between a man and woman is the only agreement recognized as a marriage "or similar union for any purpose."

The court ruled that while marriages and domestic partnerships aren't identical, they are similar because they're the only relationships in Michigan defined in terms of gender and lack of a close blood connection.

Voters "hardly could have made their intentions clearer," Justice Stephen Markman wrote, citing the law's "for any purpose" language.

Dissenting Justices Marilyn Kelly and Michael Cavanagh countered that statements made by backers of the measure before the election suggest they only intended to prohibit gay marriage, not take away employment benefits.

The dissent also noted that gay partners who qualify for health care aren't given other benefits of marriage - equal rights to property, for instance.

For the Court's complete opinion, see National Pride at Work vs. Governor of Michigan

- Garry J. Wise, Toronto

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