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Posted on Fri, May 17, 2013 : 5:35 p.m.

Zemke introduces legislation to repeal ban on domestic partner benefits in Michigan

By Ryan J. Stanton

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.


Adam Zemke

"This is about making Michigan a better and more equal place for all citizens," Zemke said in a statement released Friday afternoon. "I want to see Michigan join the ranks of other inclusive states and treat its workers and residents with the respect they deserve."

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 Reach him at or 734-623-2529. You also can follow him on Twitter or subscribe to's email newsletters.



Mon, May 20, 2013 : 12:42 p.m.

It's so obvious isn't it? Democrats...working FOR the people. Republicans...working AGAINST the people.


Sat, May 18, 2013 : 5:29 p.m.

Rebekah should mentor Adam to answer email from the people he represents!


Sat, May 18, 2013 : 11:48 p.m.

In actual writing? That would leave a trail. Kind of like this threa.... ooooops.


Sat, May 18, 2013 : 12:23 p.m.

I remember when the people supporting the ban on gay marriage told us it would have NO EFFECT on domestic partnerships. Many of these people tell us they want government out of our lives and that business knows better than government. I guess that is just for public consumption, not something they actually believe in? According to a Kaiser/Health Research & Educational Trust study 31% of businesses offer domestic partner benefits. 59 percent of Fortune 500, 85 percent of Fortune 100, and 90 percent of Fortune 50 companies now offer equal health insurance benefits to employees with same-sex domestic partners and spouses. Remember when they used to tell us government should run more like business?


Sat, May 18, 2013 : 6:04 a.m.

It is funny, but the areas of the country that are the most prosperous are places that are most socially inclusive. Needless to say, the Republikans in this state are supposedly all about jobs and prosperity but at the same time use legislation to restrict the rights of groups like women and LGBT members of our society. Progressive legislators need to keep plugging away and show the voters that legislators who want to restrict the basic freedoms of certain segments of society will no longer be tolerated. It will take a while as Gerrymandered state districts and efforts to restrict minority voters under the guise of voter fraud will slow down the process but eventually all minorities will see the same personal freedoms as the rest of us.


Mon, May 20, 2013 : 11:37 p.m.


Sun, May 19, 2013 : 3:34 a.m.

Santa Clara, Silicon Valley, they must not be in CA.

Usual Suspect

Sat, May 18, 2013 : 3:11 p.m.

California is "prosperous?" I'd hate to see "troubled."

charlotte m.

Sat, May 18, 2013 : 4:18 a.m.

Go Adam!


Sat, May 18, 2013 : 3:49 a.m.

Seems like a waste of time. The chance of it passing with two Republican-controlled chambers is zero.


Mon, May 20, 2013 : 10:30 p.m.

Not necessarily, I'm a Republican (although I lean more libertarian) and I fully support Gay rights to marry.

Basic Bob

Sat, May 18, 2013 : 3:43 p.m.

Which is why it won't make it out of committee. It takes a certain knack to function as a legislator in the minority party, and Zemke would rather seek attention from his loyal supporters than faithfully represent his constituents in a bipartisan legislature.


Sat, May 18, 2013 : 12:31 p.m.

Well, the House could vote 37 times to repeal laws with no chance of it going past the House. THAT would be a waste of time. Why would the republican controlled House want to pass a law that allowed people the freedom to choose their living situation? What kind of political ideology would they have to have in order to get government out of peoples bedrooms?


Sat, May 18, 2013 : 3:42 a.m.

What is the status of the lawsuit against PA297? Last I heard was a hearing for an injunction last summer. Did the judge ever rule?

Blue Dog Red

Sat, May 18, 2013 : 3:38 a.m.

They polled 600 voters. Hardly grounds for declaring a "sea change" in Michigan.


Sat, May 18, 2013 : 5:36 p.m.

You know the old saying that figures don't lie but liars figure............

Jay Davenport

Sat, May 18, 2013 : 5:19 p.m.

I'm guessing you haven't taken a basic stats class before.


Sat, May 18, 2013 : 3:10 a.m.

I think this bill should not only pass, but all those opposed to gay marriage should be ashamed, offer an apology to the LGBT community and its allies, take the lead in undoing the damage they caused in 2004, and vow to never let it happen again.

David Frye

Sat, May 18, 2013 : 1:21 a.m.

How long do we have to wait before we can vote to repeal the marriage equality ban? I think Michigan voters are ready to do it now.


Sun, May 19, 2013 : 3:33 a.m.

I too think that the time has come to remove the ban on same sex marriage and any other discrimination laws.


Sat, May 18, 2013 : 12:18 a.m.

Adam appears to be gaining much mentoring from Rebekah.

Dog Guy

Fri, May 17, 2013 : 11:26 p.m.

A majority of Ann Arborites support all liberal causes whether or not they agree with them. It is an efficient, boring system. Let me root, root, root for the home team, If they don't win, it's a shame.


Sat, May 18, 2013 : 5:28 a.m.

JBK, all the scandals are not scandals and are just more reasons for the party of NO to not govern in the hopes that things will go bad and the GOP can get back into power.


Sat, May 18, 2013 : 4:30 a.m.

Or you could turn on the Rush Limbaugh radio comedy hour to get the real story.


Sat, May 18, 2013 : 12:35 a.m.

ditto! The majority of people in Ann Arbor are sheep. They just follow the herd. You say jump and they respond "how high"? They feel the need in their own little shallow world that they need to "belong" to a cause without asking questions. They want the warm and fuzzy of feeling like they are part of a "cause". Sadly, i would bet 18 in 20 have no clue what his happening in DC today with the 3 scandals involving the Feds hacking into the AP email system, Benghazi, or the IRS. Ann Arborites are sheep....nothing more and nothing less. Look who they keep voting in as our Mayor and City Council. I rest my case. Art work is more important in front of City Hall than fixing our roads. Bahhh, bahhh, bahh........:)

David Briegel

Fri, May 17, 2013 : 10:50 p.m.

Actually Bob, you are in a shrinking minority and Adam represents the majority very well!

Basic Bob

Fri, May 17, 2013 : 10:12 p.m.

I can think of zero reasons to vote for Adam Zemke.


Sat, May 18, 2013 : 3:11 a.m.

Well, he just gave you one reason, didn't he?

a2 Brute?

Sat, May 18, 2013 : 12:16 a.m.

Polls, maybe. But Michigan voters actually banned gay marriage.


Fri, May 17, 2013 : 11:41 p.m.

You will find yourself on the wrong side of history Basic Bob.


Fri, May 17, 2013 : 11:05 p.m.

And minorities have rights, too

Laura Jones

Fri, May 17, 2013 : 10:47 p.m.

Recent polls on this subject would indicate you are in the minority on this issue.