State Supreme Court Blocks Suit Challenging Same-sex Benefits

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The Michigan Supreme Court on Wednesday ruled against 17 taxpayers who filed a lawsuit challenging the Ann Arbor school district's same-sex benefits policy.

The justices agreed the citizens cannot proceed with the suit, though some disagreed over the reason why.

The case involved whether the taxpayers followed the proper procedure to stop Ann Arbor Public Schools from offering benefits to gay couples.

The state appeals court dismissed the case in 2005 and ruled the taxpayers didn't "demand" that the district stop providing the benefits to gay partners before filing suit, as required under state law. They had sent letters to school board members asking them to stop the policy.

The high court's majority said the taxpayers did enough to challenge the policy but still ruled the plaintiffs lacked standing, or the right to sue.

The broader issue of same-sex benefits stems from a 2004 voter-approved constitutional amendment making the union between a man and a woman the only agreement recognized as a marriage "or similar union for any purpose."

The Supreme Court will hold oral arguments on the constitutionality of same-sex benefits in the next term.

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