Group Steps Up MI Domestic Partner Benefit Fight

July 7, 2006 ( - A conservative lobbying group has asked a Michigan judge to block Michigan State University (MSU) from offering health insurance to domestic partners of its workers.

The move by the American Family Association of Michigan comes before an anticipated ruling by theMichigan Court of Appeals in a case on the constitutionality of health benefits for state workers’ domestic partners, according to a news report on the Web site.

The group filed a lawsuit containing the injunction request at Ingham County Circuit Court. The suit contends that MSU is violating the 2004 amendment to the state constitution that bans same-sex marriage. The amendment says the union between a man and a woman “shall be the only agreement recognized as a marriage or similar union for any purpose.”

The existing Court of Appeals case concerns how far that definition of marriage extends. Soon after the amendment was passed, Governor Jennifer Granholm, acting on the advice of Attorney General Mike Cox, terminated domestic partner benefits that state unions had won, according to the news report.

Cox also told the University of Michigan, Wayne State University and the city of Kalamazoo to shut down their same-sex couple benefits programs, according to the Web site. Twenty-two same-sex couples, with one partner of each couple a state employee, sued the state in March over the issue (See MI Couples: Amendment Didn’t Kill Public Same-Sex Benefits ).

Although Granholm pulled the benefits from the contracts, she disagreed with Cox’s interpretation of the amendment and in July jumped into the case on the side of the gay couples.

Last September, Ingham County Circuit Judge Joyce Draganchuk said health care benefits are benefits of employment, not marriage (See MI Gay Rights Group Wins Benefits Ruling ), and Cox’s office appealed.