Michigan Court Rebuffs Appeal for Same-Sex Domestic Partner Benefits

February 2, 2007 (PLANSPONSOR.com) - The Michigan Court of Appeals ruled Thursday that a 2004 amendment barring same-sex marriages prevents public employers from offering health benefits to same-sex domestic partners.

The three-judge panel writes in an unanimous opinion  that in “officially recognizing a same-sex union through the vehicle of a domestic partnership agreement, public employers give same-sex domestic couples similar status to that of married couples.” The court further said that the 2004 vote to “adopt the marriage amendment charted the policy direction for Michigan.”

The suit was first brought by National Pride at Work Inc., together with a number of individual plaintiffs who are employees of seven different public employers and asked for a declaratory judgment that the amendment does not prohibit public employers from conferring health benefits on employees’ same-sex domestic partners. Later National Pride added the City of Kalamazoo as a defendant.

In blocking the ability of public employers to offer health benefits to same-sex domestic couples, the appeals court reversed the decision of a lower court.

The case is National Pride at Work Inc. vs. Governor of Michigan and City of Kalamazoo.