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Posted on Thu, Jul 25, 2013 : 5:58 a.m.

Ypsilanti takes first step toward offering domestic partner benefits

By Tom Perkins

Ypsilanti’s City Council has directed its city manager to prepare legislation that would allow the city to offer domestic partner benefits to its employees.

At its Tuesday special meeting, the City Council voted 6-0 to direct Ralph Lange to bring back the legislation to the Aug. 6 meeting. Council Member Lois Richardson was absent.


Beth Bashert

Tom Perkins | For

Ypsilanti resident Beth Bashert, who lives with a domestic partner and has co-chaired several equality campaigns in the past in the city, noted that the courts have opened up an opportunity to allow municipalities to provide benefits for both adults in a household.

“It’s not just a privilege, it’s a need everyone has, and I’m glad the city is offering it to hardworking employees who ... can have health care for their partners whether in a traditional marriage or in a relationship that is not recognized by the state,” she said.

A federal judge recently struck down as unconstitutional Michigan's ban on offering public employees domestic partner benefits.

Ypsilanti Mayor Paul Schreiber said said he believes the state is going the wrong direction on the issue.

"I think there are people who are getting discouraged in Ypsilanti or Michigan who are thinking about moving somewhere else, or to some other state that offers benefits and recognizes marriage," he said, adding that it's up to local governments to do it differently. "It was a unanimous vote by council and I'm proud of that fact."

Because the city council was directing Lange to draft legislation, there are no details on what the legislation will look like. Lange wasn’t immediately available for comment.

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Brian Robb

Council Member Brian Robb said some council members have been pushing for the legislation for five years and pointed out that the city’s own non-discrimination ordinance says it can’t discriminate against anyone on health care benefits.

“This is something council has been working on for four or five years, but never happened because of pushback from city administration,” he said. “Prior to Michigan law change in which the state prohibited this kind of benefit, we violated our own human relations ordinance.”

Bashert noted that the city “has a proud history of being a leader in protecting all of its citizens from discrimination.”

In 1998, when Ypsilanti and 10 other municipalities in the country passed a non-discrimination ordinance, the ordinance was challenged via referendum by a group opposed to it. Bashert co-chaired a group supporting the ordinance, and they won the election by 12 points. It was only one of two ordinances that were upheld that year.

In 2002, The American Family Association and Tom Monaghan worked to get language inserted into the city charter that said no protections would be provided to anyone who is gay, lesbian or bi-sexual. Voters defeated that measure by 26 points.

Bashert said she is pleased to see the efforts continued.

‘It was exciting to see no matter what ward city council members represented, they were representing all their citizens by voting yes,” Bashert said.

Tom Perkins is a freelance reporter. Contact the news desk at



Fri, Jul 26, 2013 : 5:38 a.m.

don't do it


Sat, Jul 27, 2013 : 4:56 p.m.

Yes, to echo(and concur with)incubo734, why? your argument is lacking substance.


Fri, Jul 26, 2013 : 1:32 p.m.



Fri, Jul 26, 2013 : 2:27 a.m.

I am 100% for domestic partner benefits, but isn't it odd that they waited until the city was so far in the red that they couldn't afford them anymore?


Fri, Jul 26, 2013 : 2:54 a.m.

I am sure that insuring domestic partners will break the city. LOL

Basic Bob

Fri, Jul 26, 2013 : 2:33 a.m.

They can cover the cost by laying off employees with children.


Thu, Jul 25, 2013 : 9:23 p.m.

I rarely agree with city council, but they got this one right. Good to see their moral compass is calibrated correctly even if they get everything else wrong.

Glen S.

Thu, Jul 25, 2013 : 3:48 p.m.

Kudos to Ypsilanti City Council for their unanimous vote in favor of treating all City employees equally with regard to their employment benefits. I suspect the additional expense (if any) will be minimal ... but whatever it is, it will still be a "small price to pay" for doing not only what is right -- but also what is required by the U.S. Constitution.

Chase Ingersoll

Thu, Jul 25, 2013 : 2:47 p.m.

Why are people in a relationship with someone who is employed by the government any more deserving of premium class health care than someone who is not employed by the government, or not employed at all. If government is to provide health care, it should be providing EQUAL health care opportunity to all and that of government bureaucrats and their families should be no greater than what that government provides all persons under its jurisdiction. Practically speaking this would require the city of Ypsilanti to provide a voucher to anyone living within the city limits, or to provide a primary care clinic available without exception or privilege to anyone resident of Ypsilanti.


Fri, Jul 26, 2013 : 2:52 a.m.

You are right Chase, we need single payer health care in the US, but because certain Conservatives in this county oppose the concept, it was not adopted.


Thu, Jul 25, 2013 : 8:22 p.m.

Chase - they aren't. And as we live in a time where benefits are provided through employers and most large employers offer these benefits then the city should catch up. Which they did - its part of being able to attract and retain talented people who are interested in public service.


Thu, Jul 25, 2013 : 2:38 p.m.

All right Ypsilanti! one more reason I'm delighted to live here!!

Steve Bean

Thu, Jul 25, 2013 : 12:40 p.m.

"Voters defeated that measure by 26 points." Basketball, bridge, or cribbage? Hi Ypsi friends. Best wishes on your effort.


Thu, Jul 25, 2013 : 8:17 p.m.

polling percentage points and it was a skunking!


Thu, Jul 25, 2013 : 4:54 p.m.

Isn't 26 points a full street in cribbage? That's called a skunking!


Thu, Jul 25, 2013 : 12:35 p.m.

"Tom Monaghan worked to get language inserted into the city charter that said no protections would be provided to anyone who is gay, lesbian or bi-sexual. Voters defeated that measure by 26 points. " What a humanitarian Monaghan is! Luckily the voters were smarter than him.


Thu, Jul 25, 2013 : 2:37 p.m.

Tom Monaghan huh? not surprised...


Thu, Jul 25, 2013 : 12:17 p.m.

Because this is the right thing to do