Bill Could Take Away Health Benefits

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Nancy English and her partner have been together for 17 years. They were legally married in California in 2008, a marriage that the state of Michigan does not recognize. English has been recieving her medical benefits from her partner, a full-time professor at Lansing Community College.

English suffers from arthritis, and she has had several surgeries over the past few years.

"To be honest, it's not getting better. It's getting worse. I definitely need insurance. There would be no way to get my surgeries done without insurance," said English.

But Nancy could lose her health benefits. The Michigan House approved a bill Thursday aimed to end the practice of extending benefits to a public employee's domestic partner. Unmarried partners, whether in a same-sex relationship or not, would no longer be elegible for health benefits.

"With this legislation, we're not only attacking our gay and transgender community," said Emily Dievendorf of Equality Michigan. "We're also attacking our unions, our universities, our public employees, and their families."

Supporters of the bill say it could save the state $8 billion in 2012. For English, it's not an issue of cost - it's an issue of equal rights.

"It says a lot to me about humanity," said English. "It's such an inhumane thing to take away someone's healthcare. That is just very striking, and very difficult."

The bill now goes to the Senate for a vote. Governor Snyder had no comment today about the legislation.

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