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Michigan Supreme Court Allows Same-Sex Domestic Partnership Benefits Ruling to Stand

Michigan Supreme Court

Michigan Supreme Court (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Michigan Supreme Court has rejected a request by Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette to reconsider a Court of Appeals decision allowing same-sex domestic partnership benefits for state employees.

According to MLive.com, in an order dated May 1, the Justices said, “are not persuaded that the question presented should be reviewed by this court,” leaving a previous ruling allowing those benefits in place.

In 2011 signed Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder signed a law prohibiting same-sex benefits for public employees. But the Michigan Civil Service Commission, which has the constitutional authority to set policy for state workers, chose to extend the state health care plan to domestic partners who have lived with an employee for at least one year anyway.

Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette then went to court arguing that the Civil Service Commission move to allow those befits violated the Michigan constitution, which was amended in 2004 to prohibit gay marriage and civil unions.

But a three-judge appeals court panel rejected that argument because the policy does not differentiate between same-sex or opposite-sex partners.

“Consequently, there is no absolute prohibition against same-sex domestic partners receiving benefits through their relationship with an employee so long as that receipt is not based on the employer’s recognition of that relationship as a ‘marriage or similar union,’” Judges Amy Ronayne Krause and Stephen Borrello wrote in a 2-1 opinion released in January.

In refusing to hear Schuette’s appeal, the Michigan Supreme Court has allowed that ruling to stand.

Joy Yearout, a spokesperson for Schuette, said that the attorney general’s office is “disappointed with the ruling because Governor Snyder is correct that expanding state benefits costs the taxpayers millions when they can least afford it.”

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