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Posted on Mon, Dec 12, 2011 : 6:21 p.m.

ACLU urges Gov. Rick Snyder to veto domestic partner benefits ban

By Cindy Heflin

The Michigan Chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union today urged Gov. Rick Snyder to veto legislation that would ban public employers from providing domestic partner benefits. House Bills 4770 and 4771 passed the State House and Senate late last week.

The ACLU said it was making the request on behalf of four couples who would be at risk of losing their benefits if the legislation becomes law. Two of those couples receive their health benefits through Eastern Michigan University in Ypsilanti.


Rick Snyder

It’s unclear whether the legislation would apply to public universities. It was amended to omit language that would have it apply to employees of such universities, but some House Republicans said it would apply to them anyway.

The couples receiving their benefits through EMU are:

  • Dennis and Thomas Patrick, who the ACLU said have been in a committed relationship for 14 years and have five adopted children. Dennis Patrick works for EMU. Thomas Patrick has a degenerative disc condition and has had two surgeries to date. He works part time in order to care for their children with special needs.
  • Nancy Katz and Margo Dichtelmiller, who the ACLU said have been in a committed relationship for 37 years. Dichtelmiller works for EMU. Katz is a retired attorney. In 2009, she was diagnosed with a non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma and underwent radiation, followed by chemotherapy.

The sponsor of the legislation, Rep. Dave Agema, R-Grandville, says providing the benefits is too costly for Michigan. "It is not the responsibility of taxpayers to support the roommates and unmarried partners of public employees," Agema said in a statement. "Providing benefits in this way is not the role of the state, especially when tax dollars are in short supply and there are critical programs being affected by the decrease in revenue.”

The Ann Arbor City Council passed a resolution in September opposing such a ban, and EMU and the University of Michigan have opposed the ban.



Tue, Dec 20, 2011 : 3:05 a.m.

Seems to me that our state constitution is pretty clear: marriage is the union of one man and one women. The citizens of Michigan have spoken quite clearly on this subject. I don't know why University employees believe that they are above the law. This issue has nothing to do with bigotry and everything to do with the will of the people.


Wed, Dec 14, 2011 : 3:57 p.m.

"It is not the responsibility of taxpayers to support the roommates and unmarried partners of public employees," Agema said in a statement. Seriously? Roommate? Such a bigot.


Tue, Dec 13, 2011 : 3:46 p.m.

Retirees have lost their health care in the name of balancing the budget. Public Pensions have been slashed or cut out all together in the name of balancing the budget. Puble employees have taken paycuts and or increase in medical costs in the name of balancing the budget. Our elected officials gets praise for eliminating these benefits from public employees. But elimate this benefit in the name of balancing the budget and everyone is homophobic.


Wed, Dec 14, 2011 : 4 p.m.

Its discriminatory because they're not getting rid of heterosexual domestic partner benefits. Just benefits for "same-sex roommates". It's so insulting that when they're opposite sex, there's no question that there is a sexual relationship. But if they're same sex, then they're just roommates trying to bilk the system. Republicans are a disgrace.


Tue, Dec 13, 2011 : 8:07 p.m.

So if you retire for the city after you servied your time and retire early they have eliminated earlier retirement benefits for people hired after this last contract. So again the City of Ann Arbor has eliminated thier retiree health care for people hired after this last contract. Also you have to work till your 62 to get medicare. And since the domestic partneship includes both hetrosexual and homosexual couples how is it discrimitory. I know several hetrosexual couples who are not married and enjoy the domestic partnership benefits, and you do not even have to be in a romantic relationship you just have to residein the same household for a specified amout of time possibly a elderly mother or father or adult child. So again how is this discrimitory.


Tue, Dec 13, 2011 : 6:57 p.m.

Retirees have Medicare as a health care option. Same sex partners have no backups in many cases. All of your other points are irrelevant as they impact everybody equally. These bans impact a select group only, are discriminatory and clearly not focused on saving money -- the goal is to discriminate and impose far right-wing morals.

Edward R Murrow's Ghost

Tue, Dec 13, 2011 : 3:13 p.m.

The state is looking at a potential budget surplus of $1.1 Billion from the FY2011 budget (Granholm's last) <a href="" rel='nofollow'></a> Moreover, the vast majority of people who will lose their benefits work for local municipalities and for school districts. Their losing these benefits will not save the state one thin dime. So, with a $1.1 billion surplus, the state cannot &quot;afford&quot; this for the few hundred state employees to which it applies. Nope, not about money. It's about prejudice. And, as a side note, when was going to report on the projected budget surplus? Good Night and Good Luck


Tue, Dec 13, 2011 : 1:39 p.m.

The ACLU has proven time and again that they are not standing up for everyone. They are standing up for a select few. The ACLU is not an independent group. They are an openly leftist group. Why should anymore credence be given to what they say than any other leftist group. That being said I agree that there is homophobia involved in not letting same sex couples get benefits. There is a rightest agenda in the Michigan legislature. Why can't we just get rid of all the lefties and righties and only allow frank logical discussion. I guess that wouldn't sell newspapers and 24-hour new cycle commercial time. As long as they have us believe that there are only two ways to things they control us and the message and we are just well training lap dogs.


Tue, Dec 13, 2011 : 8:53 p.m.

&quot;America&quot; as it reads is the poster boy for counter-republican bigotry.

Rork Kuick

Tue, Dec 13, 2011 : 4:03 p.m.

It's about the constitution and what judges think it means - not &quot;leftist&quot; or &quot;credence&quot;, but the law. Last 2 years alone, and hardly exhaustive: In Nebraska, supported rights of school kids to wear rosaries. Virginia, defended students with 10 commandments in their lockers. Texas: another one about wearing rosaries and crosses to school. Connecticut: Christian officer wanting recognition as war objector. Colorado: another one about wearing religious symbols to school. California: a church trying to relocate was getting hassled. Florida, homeless ministry forbidden from serving food in a public park. Texas: inmate denied the chance for Christian worship. Puerto Rico: Jehova's witnesses banned from expressing their faith on the streets. Florida: Broward Sheriff's office took a guy's guns illegally (they did more famous gun rights work in 2007-8 though). Yes, when it was Muslims rather than Christians, they also stepped in, often. But they also helped defend Quran-burning in 2010 and 11 by what many deem a horrible crack-pot (who has rights though), some of that action happening in Dearborn, so maybe folks heard about it. In 2009 there was one in Ferndale Michigan, where residents tried to restrict the Baptist's from doing things for the poor on their own property. I don't know how leftist those Baptists were - feeding the poor may not be so right wing. In Minnesota they sued a Muslim charter school for teaching religion. I missed what Bachman had to say about it.


Tue, Dec 13, 2011 : 1:24 p.m.

Instead of looking at this as a &quot;take away&quot; maybe we should look at it as something that shouldn't have been implemented in the first place, with an &quot;it was good while it lasted&quot; attitude. I'm sure that's what all the &quot;other&quot; folks who have lost their jobs, homes, health care, food stamps, retirement, pensions (due to bankruptcies with no taxpayer bailouts, too big to fail BS), and guess what folks.....these folks still have to pay taxes to support the lucrative and generous &quot;feel good&quot; benefits bestowed upon our public employees by officials who benefit from campaign financing and votes by these same employees, all at the expense of the &quot;general&quot; taxpayer. Just what constitutes a &quot;bully&quot; or &quot;undue influence&quot;? The criteria appears to be &quot;not getting what you want&quot; in this case.


Tue, Dec 13, 2011 : 12:35 p.m.

i do not always agree with the aclu at all. i do agree with this. if you do not give them benfits we will pay for it one way or the other. lots of people come to places for jobs that need this benfit. we already you know what to the seniors. start here then go on down to kids. they pay for the cost of medical. those whom do not have this benfit will go to emergency and get it for free. pay now or pay later.


Tue, Dec 13, 2011 : 11:38 a.m.

If gays and lesbians are going to be treated as second class citizens then let's be fair and exempt them from responsibilities such as paying taxes. Why should they subsidize the health benefits of heterosexuals if they're not eligible for the same?


Tue, Dec 13, 2011 : 10:35 a.m.

Can we just be truthful about this? If this was about saving money, they'd ban marriage benefits as well. But it's not about saving money: it's about punishing the gays.

Mister M

Tue, Dec 13, 2011 : 6:02 a.m.

I'm a conservative, and I'm undecided on my sexuality -- sexuality is not a choice, and is not concrete. I feel that this bill should be vetoed. The idea of marriage was established way before Christianity, Islam, etc. The ACLU is not a liberal advocacy group. They're fighting for the rights of everyone, and they're fighting for an open internet, like many major tech companies. If this ban becomes law divorce should also be illegal.


Tue, Dec 13, 2011 : 4:30 a.m.

Slick Rick should have to go and look into the eyes of Dennis and Thomas Patrick and Nancy Katz and Margo Dichtelmiller and tell them why he's taking their benefits away.


Tue, Dec 13, 2011 : 3:38 a.m.

Public Universities have constitutional autonomy - why sign a vague bill that allows questions that will only cause extensive litigation to follow ?

Tex Treeder

Tue, Dec 13, 2011 : 2:21 a.m.

What was Mr. Snyder's stated position on this issue during the gubernatorial campaign?


Tue, Dec 13, 2011 : 3:36 a.m.

He vetoed the language out of his budget bill as unconstitutional and unenforceable!

David Briegel

Tue, Dec 13, 2011 : 1:05 a.m.

Rick, this is YOUR political party. They brought you to the dance. They and your millions! It is time for you to LEAD your party. Will you liead them down the path to their destruction? Or will you lead them and the rest of us into a more sane future? Once again I remind all that we would not be speaking of this foolishness if America would join the civilized nations of the world and provide health care to all!


Tue, Dec 13, 2011 : 12:55 a.m.

Just to clarify -- again -- unmarried couples are taxed on our benefits. Married couples are not. A flat tax has absolutely nothing to do with this bill. This is legally-sanctioned discrimination, and does nothing to solve Michigan's economic issues.


Tue, Dec 13, 2011 : 5:40 p.m.

&quot;This is legally-sanctioned discrimination, and does nothing to solve Michigan's economic issues.&quot; Or otherwise just Wednesday, for the Richard Dale Snyder regime.


Tue, Dec 13, 2011 : 12:52 a.m.

They passed a $1.7 Billion business tax cut Give away, but now they are crying poor for benefits for a few same sex partners. And they completely lied about the cost. Form: Same-sex benefits costing state all of $600,000, by Kyle Melinn <a href="" rel='nofollow'></a>$600000.html &quot;The Snyder administration claimed extending the benefits would cost the state $6 million. Then the cost estimate inflated to $8 million. Then $10 million — far too much for the cash-strapped state, as the argument went.&quot; Basically they jacked up the estimate to trump up support and fake outrage. &quot;All of these estimates are turning out to be wildly too high. State Personnel Director Jeremy Stephens told the CSC last month that preliminary numbers show fewer than 100 people within the state´s 47,692-member workforce taking advantage of the benefits for a total cost to the state of $600,000.&quot; Yup. That is right. We saved a mere 600K for the privilege to brand our state prejudice. So what other minority groups will they go after to pay for their next tax cut? Maybe we can go after the smallest minority group in the state, the millionaires and billionaires to get back our money from the tax cut.

Top Cat

Tue, Dec 13, 2011 : 12:50 a.m.

Perhaps the ACLU will then pick up the tab for the benefits for these people.


Tue, Dec 13, 2011 : 3:34 a.m.

Who pays the tab for spouses of heterosexual people? Same sex people pay taxes as well in case you forgot.


Tue, Dec 13, 2011 : 12:45 a.m.

The problem is the tax code that pillages cash income but allows tax-free bennies. Pass a Flat Tax plan that provides huge personal and dependent deductions with a low flat rate and nothing else, or better yet the Fair Tax, and have people buy whatever bennies they want with their own money. Problem solved. Everything else is just misdirection.


Tue, Dec 13, 2011 : 12:41 a.m.

Please do not veto this legislation Mr. Rick, the taxpayers thank you in advance ! Good Day


Tue, Dec 13, 2011 : 4:28 a.m.

So you support second class citizens? I got a great idea you'll love: Anyone who is Baptist must pay 10% more in taxes. Fair is fair.

Bruce Frier

Tue, Dec 13, 2011 : 1:14 a.m.

Worth noting that there is no sound evidence this bill will save any money at all. As gay employees are driven out of the state (or decline to accept job offers here), they will be replaced with heterosexual employees who are far likelier to be married and have dependent children. The state will probably end up spending more on benefits.

Michigan Man

Tue, Dec 13, 2011 : 1:03 a.m.

Dog - I am in your camp on this one - No need to really worry - The Governor from Ann Arbor could less about the ACLU and its myopic political agenda - Complete waste of valuable time for the ACLU to even correspond with the office of the Governor on this matter - Mark this one up in the win column!


Tue, Dec 13, 2011 : 12:38 a.m.

If you are against this legislation, there is a petition on (<a href="" rel='nofollow'>;r_by=1769876&amp;mailing_id=1366)</a>. Please consider signing it.


Tue, Dec 13, 2011 : 12:04 a.m.

My guess is that the ACLU is angling for a lawsuit alleging the proposed legislation amounts to a violation of the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution by depriving unmarried couples of the same benefits that are legally available to married pairs without any rational basis. Such a lawsuit would likely be a rallying point for the LGBT community. It is noteworthy that Engler-appointee Washtenaw County Circuit Judge Archie Brown in 2002 ignited a majorlegal firestorm when he was a chief judge by forbidding unmarried couples to adopt in Washtenaw County and re-assigning all such cases to himself and dismissing those cases when some members of the judiciary serving under him - notably Donald Shelton - refused to comply. Atempts to overturn Brown's actions were futile and Washtebaw County ceased being the only county in Michigan to allow LGBT couples an opportunity to legally adopt children.


Tue, Dec 13, 2011 : 8:20 p.m.

What is your basis for &quot;conservative&quot; let alone &quot;heavily&quot; in referring to Michigan Appellate courts. They have shown with utmost clarity that they do not conserve the constitution, separation of powers, voting rights, ect ..... ... all the while liberating more then anyone could possibly try accommodating their campaign contributors.


Tue, Dec 13, 2011 : 3:32 a.m.

It would certainly apply if this hateful discriminatory legislation passes. The US Fourteenth Amendment prohibits animus towards a particular group and this would certainly be the case here. Even if the Michigan Supreme Court rules otherwise, it can be appealed to the federal courts on this basis by affected parties.

Bruce Frier

Tue, Dec 13, 2011 : 1:12 a.m.

Exactly right, Roadman. The ACLU wants to go into Federal Court (avoiding the heavily conservative Michigan appellate courts) on an equal protection argument, using the recent Sixth Circuit decision upholding a preliminary injunction against a substantially identical Arizona law. Ironically, it is possible that this law could actually end up strengthening gay rights in Michigan.


Mon, Dec 12, 2011 : 11:57 p.m.

Dave Agema must realize he is exposing psychotic like features in himself by legislating that all in Michigan making under $100,000 to pay an EXTRA $2,000 more in annual taxes to pay off electioneered quid pro quo, TO NOW purge partners not in agreement with his indoctrination of a few hundred bucks. This is hardly representative of Michigan and Dave knows it. High School American Government courses reliably distinguishes between Dave's view of office and the constitutional way of Americans.


Mon, Dec 12, 2011 : 11:56 p.m.

I care - The Republicans are nothing but bullies who preach about the perils of over regulation while consistently trying to literally regulate to death those they don't like - they make me want to vomit.


Mon, Dec 12, 2011 : 11:54 p.m.

For someone who doesn't care &quot;abc&quot; is sure posting alot . In other matters , although the ACLU is on the right side here it's utter boneheadedness in the AATA hate ad case still ain't getting them a contribution from me this year other than a lump of coal in their collective stocking..