Michigan One Signature Away from Domestic Partner Benefits Ban

By: Sherene Tagharobi Email
By: Sherene Tagharobi Email

"Elaine and I have been together a little over 17 years," Nancy English said, talking about her relationship with her domestic partner.

Elaine is a Lansing Community College professor, and as her domestic partner, Nancy English gets health care benefits. She's already had two knee replacements.

"To help pay for prescriptions and for me to go to the doctor and God forbid another surgery," she said.

Those are all things she couldn't afford without coverage. But this week lawmakers passed bills to ban public entities from offering domestic partner health care benefits.

"They want us to pay taxes for heterosexual couples, people who are married, who get benefits, and we do, but they don't want to pay for ours," said English, saying the measures are unfair.

Michigan's constitution gives public colleges and universities policy-making autonomy, so the bills, if signed, would likely be challenged. In any case the ban would apply to local school districts and municipalities, as well as some state employees.

"Not only is this an equal treatment issue, it's also an issue of local control," said East Lansing Mayor Pro Tem Nathan Triplett.

Triplett calls the bills a direct attack on LGBT families.

"I think this legislation very clearly puts a sign on the border of Michigan that says some families aren't welcome here. That's not good for Michigan, and it's not good for East Lansing," he said.

"Universities need to be able to compete with the world for the best universities, state and local governments need to compete for the best employees they can get regardless of their sexual orientation or whether they decided to get married," said Mary Pollock, president of the ACLU Lansing branch.

Right now, two East Lansing employees receive domestic partner benefits, but more want in.

We also talked to Representative Dave Agema, the Republican sponsor of the house bills. He says the legislation would apply to public universities and colleges, and maintains that's not unconstitutional. He says the measures are needed to control escalating costs of health care.

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  • by Anonymous on Dec 12, 2011 at 11:16 AM
    I don't care how long you have been together, if you are not married, you don't get to claim your partner. The taxpayers should not be paying for your choice of lifestyle.
  • by RT Location: Lansing on Dec 11, 2011 at 02:29 PM
    Let's put this in perspective...this was originally framed so gays/lesbians could get insurance for their boyfriend/girlfriend. I have no quarrel with gays/lesbians but the taxpayers are tired of footing the bill for this aspect of the gay lifestyle. Some straight people probably could take advantage of this too, but this was for gays who couldn't marry in this state. Sorry, but if you're not married (gay or straight), the policy doesn't apply to you and you shouldn't get coverage.
  • by jack Location: grandledge on Dec 11, 2011 at 12:12 AM
    There is still hope Way to go Michigan! (ONE MAN ONE WOMAN)
  • by Anonymous on Dec 10, 2011 at 01:11 PM
    The state should force all employees to pay for anyone extra on their policy. It is only fair. It would save more thanthe measly 1 million. It would more likely save 10 million.
  • by John Location: Lansing on Dec 10, 2011 at 09:29 AM
    No to "dometic partners"! If a straight couple, who does not care to marry, but lives together, why wouldn't they receive the same benefits?
  • by Kris on Dec 10, 2011 at 06:34 AM
    I'm so sick and tired or state and federal employees thinking that they should have everything handed to them. Health insurance is a benefit, not a right. Be thankful you have a job. If you don't like it, then get another job. You don't have to work there. Get a real job in the private sector and see what work is all about. I'm a business owner and I know what it's like to really work. I think every government worker should have to be a business owner at some point in their life to discover what the real world of work is like. If this law shows people that we don't want gay couples in our state, than so be it. I want to go back to the 1950's when women liked men and men likes women, not this foolishness we have now. Let's remember, marriage is a biblical rule, and if gays want to get married, they don't fit the biblical rule as a marriage is between a man and a women. This nation is going down hill so fast with these liberals and ACLU. It's horrible.
    • reply
      by Jason on Dec 11, 2011 at 07:06 PM in reply to Kris
      Great comment, Kris. I'm glad at least one person here still thinks as I do. So sad what this country is coming to these days.
  • by Mike Location: Lansing on Dec 10, 2011 at 05:25 AM
    The big question is how is this not a civil rights issue. Like the article said this is a direct attack LGBT community. I love that the representative says this is a budget issue, but the vote went right down party lines. This is just another part of the rights homophobic issues. It's just really sad that these representatives choose not to represent everyone because of their backwards views.
    • reply
      by Anonymous on Dec 10, 2011 at 01:15 PM in reply to Mike
      how is being gay a civil right issue. If this was direct attack, it would have been just homosexual partners, not hetroral sexual.
    • reply
      by Anonymous on Dec 11, 2011 at 04:43 AM in reply to Mike
      MIKE, CIVIL RIGHTS???? these people make enough money that they can AFFORD to pay for an insurance policy on their own!! IF you own your own business..YOU have to purchase your own Policy... and Nothing is handed to anyone for Free. Even those who have health care coverage PAY a huge portion to have it. IT isnt the TAX payers responsibility to pay for "domestic partnerships health care"
  • by tom Location: jackson on Dec 9, 2011 at 07:32 PM
    I work in the private sector and I don't have ANY health care coverage - my employer offers it, but he only pays HALF OF MY COVERAGE AND NONE OF MY SPOUSE'S. At my rate of pay, I can't afford it. Public employees (especially politicians) need to see what the real world is really like.
  • by m Location: lansing on Dec 9, 2011 at 06:19 PM
    Great Rick that will be the first thing I will agree with you on, If you sign it that is. Still hope my daughter manages to kick you in the shin.
  • by dave Location: Lansing on Dec 9, 2011 at 04:35 PM
    Well, if they want to just cut the budget down, then they need to cut all the policies in the state to cover single only coverage. Everyone.....starting with the legislature and governor on down. When they do that, I will believe this is only a budget issue and not a religious right wing attempt to be mean and spiteful. Go ahead GOP, lets see if you can do what you want others to do..........put your loved ones out of coverage so we can have a balanced budget. I want to see you all lead by example for once, instead of voting yourselves a 38% increase, taking time off for deer hunting and taking extended holiday leaves........basically doing part time work and getting full time pay and benefits. I could find better and more cost effective places to balance the budget than cutting domestic partner benefits......I would love to see the #'s on what that will truly save the state. (verses you giving up spouse and family coverage for all of you...) Lets run some #'s and see .........
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