January 6, 2012 (PLANSPONSOR.com) - The American Civil Liberties Union and the ACLU of Michigan filed a lawsuit asking a federal court to strike down a new state law that bans many public entities from providing healthcare insurance to the domestic partners of their employees.
The lawsuit was filed on behalf of school teachers, city and county workers and their domestic partners who will lose their health insurance as a result of the law. The lawsuit charges that the new law discriminates by categorically denying domestic partners access to benefits and violates the constitutional right to equal protection by forcing gay and lesbian employees in committed relationships to carry the financial hardship and anxiety of being uninsured, while allowing heterosexual couples to marry and receive family health protections.
In addition, the ACLU said, the law only bars domestic partners from receiving health care coverage, while allowing government employers to offer benefits to all other family members, including parents, siblings, uncles and cousins.
"It's unconstitutional for the state of Michigan to deprive a small number of workers the means to take care of their loved ones when other similarly situated workers do have access to family coverage," said Amanda C. Goad, staff attorney for the ACLU LGBT Project.
Backers of the legislation criticized domestic partner programs as expensive and in violation of the state's 2004 constitutional amendment defining marriage as involving one man and one woman approved by Michigan voters in 2004 (see Michigan Bill Barring Domestic Partner Benefits Goes to Governor).
More information on the lawsuit is available at http://www.aclu.org/lgbt-rights/bassett-et-al-v-snyder.