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Posted on Sat, Nov 12, 2011 : 9:12 a.m.

Speak out against legislative bill to end domestic partner benefits for state workers

By Letters to the Editor

I read with disbelief and increasing dismay the article in your Nov. 3, 2011, paper titled “’People will leave,’ prof says,” concerning House Bill 4770. The bill seeks to save money by eliminating benefit allowances for domestic partners. Your paper states that the Michigan House of Representatives approved the bill in September 2011 and is being considered by the state Senate.

Our country as well as our state have prided themselves on being leaders on many fronts, including compassion and care for the weak and disabled. It has been said that at their best the American people have exhibited critical intelligence, tolerance, respect for evidence and attention of the unfolding discoveries in science.

I am glad that your newspaper also quotes several of the groups and individuals who are opposing House Bill 4770, as well as the statement of a man whose partner’s health, already tenuous, would be at even greater risk should benefit allowances be eliminated.

Setting back our clocks at this time of year may have beneficial effects on some citizens, but adopting a measure like House Bill 4770 would set all of us back in a way that would be hard to recover from. I urge everyone of voting age (but also young people who will someday vote) to inform their government representative of their opposition to House Bill 4770 and its implications of intolerance and rigidity.

Nancy Williams
Ann Arbor


Huron 74

Sun, Nov 13, 2011 : 7:05 a.m.

Benefits like the ones provided by an entity like the state cost thousands of dollars per year, per person. Those are everyone's dollars. So how do WE make the distinction between a "domestic partner" and a friend? Oh boy, boys and girls, that's something the government doesn't need to get into, do we? Really though, we've become an entitlement society where people think the money comes out of a hole in the ground somewhere.


Sun, Nov 13, 2011 : 3:06 p.m.

There are a variety of ways: power of attorneys, common bills, shared residence (lease or mortgage), shared banking, you know things that other committed couples share! Surely you don't think you can just get Hesse benefits without adhering to a while list of conditions and affirming to them do you?

Bill Wilson

Sat, Nov 12, 2011 : 11:07 p.m.

Bedrog, And by no means is my request an inference that should you decide not to disclose your idenity, that there would be anything wrong with that. However, I also believe that if you refuse, one should factor this as to your credibility. And, that is an individual accessment: subjective; no one is right, no one is wrong. Just looking for fairness here.


Sun, Nov 13, 2011 : 3:52 p.m.

The university of vermont. ( for 30 years)...then the U.of michigan as an adjunct prof for 6 years until retirement. Also an ancillary career as an artist...and if you promise to buy something i'll send you my website ( which editors have seen). but warning: my work is not cheap. Fair enough , Bill???


Sat, Nov 12, 2011 : 10:47 p.m.

I guess this whole argument has left 'most people' behind. This is really about those whose needs are really met (the 'have mores') against those whose haven't (' have less' - e.g. the rest of us: 99%). Yes, folks they've (Republicans) have been able to break us into 'have less and have mores'. Dubya won (he's in TX as a 'Have More'). Nice work GW; glad you and Laura are comfortable. So where wee the WMDs again? Amazing. I hadn't realized our collective intelligence had dropped so far, but I guess cutting education, etc. was worth the effort. I love the references to the 'private sector' -- GE, Disney, SONY, etc. who have provided domestic partner benefits for decades (to keep good workers producing quietly).

hut hut

Sat, Nov 12, 2011 : 9:53 p.m.

Does anyone see that universal health care coverage makes the question of health benefits moot? So, politically, are people who oppose equal rights for all also against health care for all?. It would appear so in most cases.

hut hut

Sat, Nov 12, 2011 : 9:50 p.m.

Government has no business in the marriage business. Make "marriage" a religious ceremony. Churches and their members may practice however and whatever they wish within their religious tenets. Government may, or may not, issue a legal contract between two people regardless of gender or whatever you want to call it if it's really necessary, but government and thus politics has no business telling us who cannot be a couple for legal purposes such as passing on inheritance or right to guardianship, power of attorney. Government will continue to do this because they make money and are legal arbiters of the contract. Equal Rights under the law for EVERYONE.

Susie Q

Sat, Nov 12, 2011 : 8:10 p.m.

Belboz, you are mistaken. Many, if not most, large companies offer same-sex, domestic partner benefits, since same-sex couples CANNOT legally marry in MI. I remember when the religious right was attempting to pass the referendum against gay marriage. Many proponents of the law sounded off in print and on broadcast media that this law would not prohibit health insurance for gay couples. Even Bill Schuette (current attorney general) said, "We're not after anyone's health insurance benefits. This is just to 'protect" marriage." What a lie that turned out to be. The private sector pays these benefits routinely, so should the public sector. It is a mean-spirited, discriminatory policy. Now, whether ANYONE should get health insurance as an employment benefit is another question.....completely beside the point in this discussion.


Sun, Nov 13, 2011 : 7:02 p.m.

Is there a source that says only half the companies pay benefits to unmarried committed partners? I've seen reports that show 90% of private companies now include Domestic Partner coverage.

Basic Bob

Sun, Nov 13, 2011 : 3:53 a.m.

"The private sector pays these benefits routinely" Actually only half of the companies surveyed extend benefits to unmarried committed partners. The other half do not. Far from routine. Don't dispute a lie with another lie.


Sat, Nov 12, 2011 : 4:21 p.m.

What is absurd is that people refuse to acknowledge that most private employers do offer Domestic Partner benefits to their employees, if one could look beyond their biased rose-colored glasses. They do so because the State, in it's infinite lack of wisdom refuses to allow marriage or civil unions or any other way for same-sex partners to obtain coverage in the way that other committed couples do in many other States around the country, including the largest: California and New York. Now, of course, they will offer the ultimate in logic: just move their because they can't debate the facts. In Michigan, benefits are provided to married employees so 2 people are covered as are their children. However, other committed couples are unable to obtain that same level of coverage. How is that fair? Is that not biased? It sure seems to be in violation of the Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution to many people. Another key reason that most private employers offer Domestic Partner benefits is a key business reason - they need to in order to attract and retain qualified professionals to their businesses. It's part of doing businesses and it's part of their values as an organization. They are not mean-spiritied. They are not discriminatory bigots. They are not speaking from a place 50-60 years in the past. They recognize polls showing the majority of Americans support same-sex partnerships. They recognize the change in federal court support. Why is Michigan continuing to push and pull our great State towards the bottom in nearly every way? Do they want years and years of very expensive litigation on yet another measure?

Edward R Murrow's Ghost

Sat, Nov 12, 2011 : 7:19 p.m.

@Rob, Are you saying that right-wing conservatives operate without knowledge or understanding of the facts or, even worse, they knowingly make it up? Heavens to Betsy! Who'd have thunk it? Good Night and Good Luck

David Briegel

Sat, Nov 12, 2011 : 4:05 p.m.

Instead of finding a way to cover everyone as the more civilized nations have accomplished, we are finding more ways to take benefits away from people. Christian America is turning Tiny Tim into a lazy villain and Ebenezer into the hero when in reality, he is just Scrooge!

Basic Bob

Sun, Nov 13, 2011 : 3:37 a.m.

The blame rests on the majority of our legislators who are not Christian conservatives and tea party followers. Your heroes are accomplices to the crime.

Homeland Conspiracy

Sat, Nov 12, 2011 : 4:18 p.m.

It also seems to have turned into alot of "Let Them Eat Cake" thinking. Hate is not a family value

Ron Granger

Sat, Nov 12, 2011 : 3:44 p.m.

This misses the bigger picture.: It is wrong to tie health care to our "jobs". Health care should be something you buy outside of work. Unfortunately, the system is greatly stacked against that. As a result, entrepreneurs, individuals, and small business owners all suffer. The lack of affordable health care outside of the corporate setting stifles entrepreneurship - and job creatation - in this country. We need health care groups that exist outside the workplace. We need to take the many layers of profiteering out of the system. Even non-profits like Blue Cross are profiteering. A non-profit CEO making $2.75 million a year? Come on. In health care, the "free market" has grossly failed.

Ron Granger

Sat, Nov 12, 2011 : 8:19 p.m.

I like the idea of insurance credit unions. Clearly, the Michigan blue cross model, where they get special benefits and operate as a "non-profit", has failed. It's also crazy that drugs costing $250 here are $70 in Canada for the same product. And Republicans are currently trying to make it illegal to fill your prescriptions in Canada.


Sat, Nov 12, 2011 : 3:55 p.m.

Best comment of the day, you're right on target. To get real "health care reform" we need to start by getting rid of the insurance companies and decoupling insurance from work. Insurance should be available on the "free" market from health care exchanges that are similar to credit unions. They should be owned by the subscribers, not for profit companies that send our premium dollars to lobbyists to argue against what is good for us.


Sat, Nov 12, 2011 : 3:41 p.m.

"I read with disbelief and increasing dismay " Oh the humanity ! Come on now Nancy, no one is dying here. I have let my gov reps know that I fully support this bill. Taxpayers are tired of having double standards , one for themselves and one for public sector workers who pick our pockets. No one is going to quit their job because they have no where else to go and if they do leave, there are plenty of qualified folks ready to take thier place. Good Day


Sun, Nov 13, 2011 : 7:44 a.m.

No one is going to quit their jobs? If your spouse (who you had insured through work) was suddenly uninsured because of this law I think you might consider a change of scenery. I have a gay couple I am very good friends with and this is exactly their situation. They've decided to pick up and leave the bigoted state of Michigan for a tenure-track position at NYU. Talented people have left and they will continue to leave if this bill is passed. It's unbelievable that it is even up for consideration! What is this, 1920? Wake up Michigan!


Sat, Nov 12, 2011 : 3:28 p.m.

The bill is meanspirited and just plain wrong, given that committed same sex partners are taxpayers like married hetero couples. Being denied marital status and then penalized for not being married is a malicious double bind that makes 'catch 22" look like a piece of clear thinking. Another bit of sanctimonious and needless divisiveness brought to you by your friendly "teaparty" types. ( that said, it wouldnt be all that difficult to weed out those of whatever sexual preference who are exploiting domestic partner status for simple economic expediency...and who should be disbarred from such benefits).


Sun, Nov 13, 2011 : 12:43 p.m.

basic bob: That "one parent staying at home with the kids " thing is a long -gone fantasy ,even for heteros, given the economic climate ( and the generation -old rise of women's occupational empowerment ). While having a parent ( of whatever gender) on hand "for the kids" is a good thing, that can be handled by greater workplace flexibility re . parenting needs, maternity/paternity leaves etc. My kids---both heading toward middle age themselves, with kids of their own--were raised that way and so are their kids ( and both generations thriving). ( i admit that my own/wife's) academic careers perhaps allowed for greater such flexibility but it could be replicated in most settings)

Basic Bob

Sun, Nov 13, 2011 : 3:33 a.m.

Many people believe that an important part of marriage is to create an environment where children can be raised, and one parent can stay home to care for the children. I would not oppose a "child test" for any spouse or other partner. Everyone else should get a job and pay their own way. It is not sanctimonious for a society to support children and families. Until we have unfettered access to health care for all citizens, regardless of means, this is a necessity.


Sat, Nov 12, 2011 : 2:59 p.m.

Frankly, it is absurd that our government is expected to provide benefits to workers of any sort that do not exist for the average worker in the private sector. Whether it be health care, pensions, or domestic partner benefits. If all other industries provided this benefit, but the government did not, then fine. However, they predominantly do not. For every one employee that you find in the private sector with this benefit, I bet I can find 9 that do not. It is not the job of the taxpayers to provide benefits to people that they do not receive themselves from their own place of employment. I resent the fact you label me or others as intolerant or rigid. Especially when I see so many of these government employees driving around in foreign vehicles, failing to support the most critical portion of the Michigan economy. Perhaps if they and others had a greater pride in the industry that supports our economy, we'd have a society that could possibly support everyone in the manner you outline above.


Sun, Nov 13, 2011 : 2:56 p.m.

These overly generous partner plans are the same plans provided to married couples. Are they overly generous then?

Basic Bob

Sun, Nov 13, 2011 : 3:18 a.m.

@David Briegel, We don't get to pick winners and losers. The government does that for us. Doctors and hospital administrators - winners. Insurance companies - winners. Investment banks (yes, they invest in insurance) - winners. Government employees and retirees - winners. Keep complaining about Wall Street, but you serve the same master. The rest of us are the designated losers, driven nearly into poverty by substandard health care benefits. The insurance companies recover their costs in overly generous "partner" benefits by shifting it to private plans. Do you think we freely choose $2500 per person out-of-pocket plans?

David Briegel

Sat, Nov 12, 2011 : 7:57 p.m.

I resent the fact that you don't wish to bring everyone to a civilized standard but wish to pick winners and losers!


Sat, Nov 12, 2011 : 5:57 p.m.

So would you support giving public sector employees raises to bring their salaries up to the levels of private sector employees with similar education backgrounds? Over the years, many public sector employees have accepted lower pay rates because they felt the other benefits were important. For many years, the attraction of a government job was the pension and insurance programs. For many these programs made up for the lower salary (10-12% lower on average).


Sat, Nov 12, 2011 : 4:28 p.m.

There's a reason most private employers provide Domestic Partner Benefits - they need to from a business standpoint. They also want to because they are not mean-spirited, not stuck in the 1950's, not discriminatory, not intolerant, not rigid, not uninformed, etc. They also recognize that most Americans support same-sex relationships, that most federal courts now support and recognize equality and same-sex relationships, that Fourteenth Amendment rights may be trampled otherwise, etc. Get ready for years of expensive litigation should this bill pass. Much more money than what is currently spent on the benefits will be spent on the litigation.


Sat, Nov 12, 2011 : 3:43 p.m.

Well said Belboz ! Good Day