Thursday, February 8, 2007
Case Law Development: Marriage Amendment Precludes Extension of Public Employee Benefits to Same Sex Partners
The Michigan Court of Appeals this past week held that the state's marriage amendment did not permit public employers, such as public universities and governmental entities, to extend benefits such as healthcare insurance to same-sex domestic partners.
The court qualified its decision by pointing out that it was not ruling on "the lifestyle or personal living decisions of individual citizens" nor could it consider "the effect of the amendment on employee recruitment, retention and morale, and marketplace competitiveness." Rather, the court noted that it was simply engaged in interpreting the language of the amendment, which, it observed was a matter of first impression given the amendments "relatively unique phraseology" relating to "similar unions."
In reversing the trial court, the Court of Appeals concluded that:
By officially recognizing a same-sex union through the vehicle of a domestic partnership
agreement, public employers give same-sex domestic couples similar status to that of married couples. Contrary to plaintiffs’ argument, a publicly recognized domestic partnership need not mirror a marriage in every respect in order to run afoul of article 1, section 25, as the amendment plainly precludes recognition of a “similar union for any purpose.”
National Pride at Work, Inc v Governor, (February 1, 2007)
(Last visited February 7, 2007 bgf)
Thanks to Jeanne Hannah for flagging the case. See her discussion of the case at the Updates on Michigan Family Law Blog.