Citing the 2004 Constitutional amendment barring recognition of same-sex relationships in the state of Michigan, GOP state Rep. Dave Agema pushed a bill eliminating health care coverage for domestic partners of public employees to Governor Rick Snyder’s desk. The bill, HB 4770, was signed into law by Gov. Snyder on Thursday.
According to the statewide LGBT group Equality Michigan, lawsuits on behalf of affected families will likely be filed soon.
“Governor Snyder’s support for this bill is appalling. Today, the Governor told unmarried public employees that they can no longer care for their partners or children,” Equality Michigan policy director Emily Dievendorf said in a statement Thursday. “He has put hardworking gay and lesbian couples and their children into harm’s way by eliminating important health care coverage. He has spent the last two years talking about creating a welcoming state with a attractive business climate, and this bill flies in the face of those goals.”
“Governor Snyder caved to the radical social agenda coming from the legislature,” Dievendorf continued. “He has rejected our shared commitment to economic growth. In order to compete in today’s global business environment, we must build a culture that prioritizes fundamental fairness. This law will only serve to hurt Michigan.”
According to Equality Michigan, many public entities provide coverage for domestic partners of employees, including University of Michigan, Michigan State University, Wayne State University and 11 of the 12 other public universities, and at least eight cities, counties and school districts, including Ann Arbor and Kalamazoo.
LGBT advocates had hoped Governor Snyder would veto the bill after sending it back to the legislature with concerns about how it affected public Universities.
“In a signing letter to the legislature, Snyder reiterated the fact that higher education institutions would not be included in H.B. 4770 as the constitutional autonomy of universities has been reviewed and affirmed many times by the courts since the adoption of the 1963 Michigan Constitution. Members of classified state civil service are also not covered by the terms of H.B. 4770 as the constitution gives the Michigan Civil Service Commission responsibility for setting rates of compensation and regulating all conditions of employment in the classified service,” said the Governor’s press release at the time of signing.
“The decision to take healthcare benefits away from families just in time for the holidays is mean-spirited and cruel. Governor Snyder had an opportunity to show real leadership and put an end to the political games; instead he approved an extreme policy that sets our state back, jeopardizes our economy and puts our families at risk,” said Kary Moss, executive director of the Michigan ACLU. “The bill serves no other purpose than to single out a small minority of people and deprive them of critical protections as guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution. We are prepared to challenge this law on behalf of Michigan families in the coming weeks.”