MI House Approves Bill to Stop Domestic Partner Benefits

September 16, 2011 (PLANSPONSOR.com) – The Michigan State House has approved legislation under which cities, counties, schools, universities, and the state would be prohibited from offering domestic partner benefits to the live-in companions of their employees.

The measure would bar the employers from including domestic partner benefits as a subject of collective bargaining after the expiration of current contracts.

According to the Lansing State Journal, many Michigan public employers implemented the domestic partner policies allowing benefits to be extended to unmarried employee partners of either sex after the Michigan Supreme Court ruled that same-sex partner benefits violated the one man, one woman marriage amendment approved by voters in 2004. Universities, and some school districts and local municipalities that offer the benefits contend it is a way of providing equal treatment to employees and are necessary to attract the most qualified workers. 

Opponents counter that domestic partner benefits are costly and violate the intent of voters who approved the marriage amendment, the news report said. Legislative analysts said enacting the ban could save the state about $8 million in 2012.  

A spokeswoman for Governor Rick Snyder, who vetoed a provision in a university spending bill earlier this year that would have barred domestic partner benefits on the grounds that it would violate the universities’ constitutional autonomy, had no immediate comment on the House bill.