Zemke introduces legislation to repeal ban on domestic partner benefits in Michigan
State Rep. Adam Zemke, D-Ann Arbor, has introduced a bill that would reverse the state's ban on extending health benefits to domestic partners of public employees.
The legislation, House Bill 4742, would repeal Public Act 297 of 2011, which enacted the ban. The bill has been referred to the House Government Operations Committee.
Many Democrats and gay rights supporters have called the state's ban discriminatory and overreaching, while some Republicans argue it's a matter of fiscal responsibility and it reflects the will of Michigan voters who decided in 2004 to define marriage as a union between one man and one woman.
While gay marriage remains constitutionally prohibited in Michigan, a new poll suggests a majority of state voters, if given the option today, would reverse the ban they approved in 2004.
As of its introduction, Zemke's bill had 33 co-sponsors, including state Reps. Gretchen Driskell, D-Saline; Jeff Irwin, D-Ann Arbor; and David Rutledge, D-Superior Township.
Zemke said the reach of PA 297 goes beyond a fundamental unfairness. He believes the act hinders the state's ability to attract and retain a talented workforce.
"Business and higher education leaders have cited PA 297 for its adverse impact, particularly on Michigan's attractiveness to young professionals, as they consider pursuing opportunities outside of Michigan," he said. "At the end of the day, I can think of zero reasons for the state to continue authorizing such blatant discrimination."
A spokesperson for the House Republicans could not immediately be reached for comment on Friday afternoon.
Ryan J. Stanton covers government and politics for AnnArbor.com. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or 734-623-2529. You also can follow him on Twitter or subscribe to AnnArbor.com's email newsletters.