Federal judge hears arguments against state law banning domestic partner health benefits
A federal judge today heard arguments from the American Civil Liberties Union asking to strike down a Michigan ban on health care benefits granted to the domestic partners of state workers.
Two Ann Arbor couples — Theresa Bassett and Carol Kennedy, and Peter Ways and Joe Breakey — are among those represented.
"We have no interest being in a legal battle with the state of Michigan, but standing up for the rights of our families is more important right now,” Ways, an Ann Arbor teacher whose partner will lose his benefits, said in a statement. “This law targets gay families in a very specific way, sending the message that we don't count and that we are not wanted. The state cannot retain a high quality work force with this type of policy in place."
The ban was signed into law in December by Gov. Rick Snyder. It mostly affects local governments and public schools and applies to health insurance and other benefits for unmarried partners of the employees.
It's not clear whether ban applies to employees of public universities. The governor's office, and officials from the University of Michigan and Eastern Michigan University say it does not. However, some Michigan lawmakers say it does.