Yesterday, Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder (pictured) signed into law a bill that would ban state employees from receiving domestic partner benefits. In an especially craven move, he cites financial concerns as a rationale for the ban.
According to the Detroit Free Press, the bill was "primarily aimed at ending the practice of providing benefits to same-sex couples, which was adopted by a handful of cities, schools and most of the state's public universities after the adoption of the state's one-man, one-woman marriage amendment in 2004." That amendment defined marriage between a single man and a single woman as "the only agreement recognized as a marriage or similar union for any purpose" — it also banned civil unions. After a number of university employees argued (persuasively) that banning universities from extending domestic partner benefits would cause a "brain drain" in Michigan, Gov. Snyder vetoed a section of the ban that would have applied it to university employees. Interestingly, Snyder says employees of state government will also be exempt. Among those losing their benefits, however, will be employees of three local school districts and five city and county governments, including Detroit.
In a statement explaining his decision to strip gay workers of the potentially life-saving benefits their straight counterparts enjoy, the governor's office said, "The governor and legislature have been working hard to address the spiraling costs of health care and other post-retirement benefits over the past year [...] This is a continuation of those fiscal measures." I wonder what other groups of people will be denied their equal rights as a way for the state of Michigan to save money. As bone-chilling as this rationalization is (sorry everyone, the state just can't afford the luxury of supporting gay people anymore), it's obviously bullshit. The real reason for the ban — which some speculate could end up costing the state money in court costs — is pure homophobia. Fortunately, the ACLU is already planning a legal challenge.
Domestic Partner Benefits Ban Signed; ACLU Promises Lawsuit [Detroit Free Press]
Rick Snyder Signs Domestic Partner Benefits Ban For Michigan Public Employees [Huffington Post]