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Michigan Ban On Domestic Partner Benefits Blocked By Federal Court

Flag_of_Michigan.svgA cynical attempt by the Michigan Assembly to try and prevent domestic partner benefits for public employees was ruled unconstitutional on Friday by US District Court Judge David M. Lawson. Michigan’s Public Act 297 would have prevented cities, counties and other public employers from offering benefits to same-sex couples.

Judge Lawson stated that it violated the Equal Protection Clause of the Constitution.

Emily Dievendorf of Equality Michigan stated that “Equality Michigan is overjoyed by Judge Lawson’s ruling. In order to attract the best and brightest talent to Michigan, we need to make sure all workers are treated equally. On the heels of the Supreme Court decisions advancing recognition of same-gender relationships, we believe that momentum towards equality and justice is on our side. This is a victory for all lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender families in Michigan who are working to provide stability for their families.”

The decision
includes an injunction preventing Governor Rick Snyder from enforcing the 2011 law. The suit was brought by five same-sex couples who allege the law violates the Constitution’s guarantee of due process and equal protection. Attorneys for the city tried to claim that the ocuples had not been injured by the law and thus has no standing to bring the suit.

Still, Lawson dimissed the Due Process claim for lack of evidence. However, with regards to the Equal Protection Clause, Lawson cited statements by the two Representatives who autohred the law which showed that it was aimed at same-sex couples to deny them benefits. Lawson wrote “The plaintiffs fortify their position with statements from the sponsors of the legislation
suggesting that Public Act 297 targets same-sex partners and was motivated by animus.”

The ACLU of Michigan’s Kary Moss stated “This law served no purpose to the state of Michigan other than to needlessly discriminate against hard-working families. It’s hard to encourage talented people and their families to work for public employers in Michigan when they’re denied the ability to take care of each other.”

The case now goes to a full trial.

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