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Posted on Mon, Nov 14, 2011 : 12:11 p.m.

Mary Sue Coleman: 'Families may well leave' if domestic partner benefits ban passes

By Kellie Woodhouse

University of Michigan President Mary Sue Coleman pleaded last week with state legislators to vote against a bill that would take away domestic partner benefits for state employees, including U-M faculty.


University of Michigan President Mary Sue Coleman

Lon Horwedel |

"The University of Michigan must be able to offer an excellent benefit package to our employees and to those we hope to recruit to U-M for their unique talents, skills and expertise," Coleman wrote in a Nov. 8 letter addressed to Senate Majority Leader Randy Richardville and sent to all 38 state senators.

"The loss of our ability to offer such benefits would put the university, and our state, at a serious disadvantage compared to peers."

Coleman's letter comes after a heated debate about the proposed elimination. House bill 4770 —which has already been passed by the Michigan House of Representatives in September in a 64-44 party-line vote— seeks to take away benefit allowances for a state employee's domestic partner and that partner's children.

With a Republican-controlled Senate, U-M's concern is that the benefits ban could pass on the party line by a wide margin.

The Senate committee reviewing the bill already has decided to put it to the floor before the entire Senate body for a full review. No date has been set for the review.

"If the bill gets to the Senate floor there will be a vigorous debate," said Cynthia Wilbanks, U-M’s vice president of government relations.

In Michigan, same sex marriage is not legal or recognized. Thus, the bill essentially makes it impossible for gay and lesbian individuals to offer benefits to their significant others.

Rep. Dave Agema, a Republican who sponsored the bill, contends it will save millions in state dollars each year. Exact numbers have been contested.

Coleman said that this year 570 adults and 48 children receive domestic partner benefits through a U-M healthcare plan. The average cost per person to the university is $3,072, or $1.9 million total, she said. That's 0.7 percent of U-M's $302 million total healthcare cost.

"In the absence of benefits that are widely offered elsewhere, employees currently responsible for providing health coverage for their families may well leave, and other top candidates will choose not to come," Coleman wrote.


Andries Coetzee, right, and his partner Gary Woodall make dinner inside their home in Ann Arbor on Oct. 28. Woodall may lose his health care coverage if the bill proposing the elimination of domestic partner benefits passes through the Michigan Senate.

Several university employees told in October that they were thinking of looking elsewhere for employment because of the legislation.

"I am actively applying for jobs elsewhere… at universities that don’t have these limitations,” U-M linguistics professor Andries Coetzee said in October. “I don’t want to leave the University of Michigan, I am really happy here. It’s a great school to work at, but I have to take care of my family.”

Coetzee has been with his partner for seven years years. Coetzee is originally from South Africa and he and his partner are legally married there, but Michigan does not recognize that marriage.

Agema, however, contends that in a difficult economic climate, supporting employees in Coetzee's situation is not Michigan's responsibility. He contends that the state could save millions if the ban is passed.

"It is not the responsibility of taxpayers to support the roommates and unmarried partners of public employees," Agema said in a statement. "Providing benefits in this way is not the role of the state, especially when tax dollars are in short supply and there are critical programs being affected by the decrease in revenue.”

Coleman, however, asserted that vacated positions would be mostly filled by individuals who have children and married partners, and thus the university would not realize any significant cost difference.

She also noted that several giant Michigan fortune 500 companies, including Dow Chemical Co., Ford Motor Co., General Motors Corp. and Whirlpool Corp., offer domestic benefits.

If the bill does pass through the senate, Snyder will have the opportunity to veto it.

Wilbanks said U-M will "use many different opportunities to talk with individual legislators and members of (Snyder's) administration and advocate our point of view."

Kellie Woodhouse covers higher education for Reach her at or 734-623-4602 and follow her on twitter.



Thu, Nov 17, 2011 : 4:26 p.m.

Human Existence and Spiritual Relationships : I would like to learn from the people with unique talents, special skills, and professional expertise about the nature of human existence. We must realistically understand the value of a benefit like health insurance. So, we need to know as to how man exists in nature. I can move from Ann Arbor, and I may move in any direction, North, South, East, or West; I would still need a shade to live, I need the protection, comfort, and care that is provided by the Power/Force/Energy called Lord God Creator's Mercy, Compassion, and Grace. There is no human existence in the absence of positive Intraspecific biotic interaction called Spiritualism. <a href="" rel='nofollow'></a>

CE Whiting

Wed, Nov 16, 2011 : 6:47 p.m.

Families have already left. Mine is one of them. We live in Massachusetts where same-sex marriage is legal. We are legally acknowledged and treated like other married people under the law. It's pretty simple and hasn't destroyed the economy of Massachusetts. Our neighbors are kind and welcoming and we don't have to wonder when our employment benefits might be taken away strictly on the basis of our committed life-long relationship. Agema is trying to implement what the 2004 state constitutional marriage amendment set in motion: the categorical denial of same-sex couples and their families as legitimate family structures. Don't be fooled. Taking away employment benefits is absolutely intended to strike at the persons receiving them. Agema and his supporters want to punish same-sex families because he believes their &quot;lifestyle&quot; to be immoral. Agema disdainfully refers to these committed relationships a &quot;roommates and unmarried partners.&quot; Are the couple in the article &quot;roommates or unmarried partners?&quot; Of course not. They are married under South African law and fully understand themselves to be married. Some of the &quot;unmarried partners&quot; Agema would deny benefits would probably get married in Michigan, if they could. Others will take the steps we took and leave. I loved Michigan. While there I contributed to the economy by working and paying taxes. But the state refused to extend to my family basic civil protections afforded hetersexual families. This initiative is not merely sad or unfortunate or regrettable. It will harm families and children. If enacted, it will take the stellar University of Michigan off the table for a lot of creative, productive, cutting-edge academics and researchers. Enough other institutions offer family and &quot;spouse/partner&quot; benefits to all employees. Too bad the state is stuck in reverse on so many issues.


Wed, Nov 16, 2011 : 3:53 p.m.

&quot;FAMILIES MAY WELL LEAVE&quot; : Mary Sue Coleman, President of University of Michigan has publicly expressed her concern that &quot;families may well leave&quot; if the proposed legislation is passed into law affecting health care benefits to domestic partners. I would like to explore the rational basis for her argument. We need to examine the factors that are involved or that may contribute towards matrimonial harmony or conjugal bliss. Families are indeed falling apart both in Michigan and across the country. Promoting family unity and togetherness is a very good idea and it would specially help children to grow up in families where they are loved. The divorce rate, the separation of families cannot be explained or attributed to the availability of health care benefits to couples involved in relationships or partnerships. I would like to directly ascertain from Andries Coetzee and Gary Woodall if the Bill would affect the nature of their relationship and its maintenance. Would they like to assure us that their relationship and commitment to each other would survive forever if Michigan provides health care benefit to domestic partners. Where is the guarantee that the relationship will not fall apart the day after Michigan Governor rejects the proposed legislation? We need to use unique talents, special expertise, and professional skills to formulate interpersonal relationships based upon mutual respect, trust, confidence, commitment, and to uphold human dignity. Gay/Lesbian relations are not recognized as there is no proper understanding of these relationships. The term 'spiritual' describes the nature of a relationship, a partnership, an association, or bonding between two individuals based upon thoughts and feelings that involve sympathy, compassion, respect, tolerance, cooperation, and of functional insubordination for mutual benefit. To keep families together, we have to promote spiritual relationships in the first place.


Tue, Nov 15, 2011 : 10:41 p.m.

Seems to me that if the Big Government Republican state legislature was legitimately looking at this from a &quot;cost&quot; perspective, and not lying to our faces about the entirely religion-based motivation behind this, they would propose eliminating benefits for everyone except the employees themselves. Which of course isn't going to happen, because this has nothing to do with saving money at all; the reality is that it's not going to save any money at all, since many of those that leave will be replaced with married employees, and many of them will have dependents. Not to mention added recruiting and training costs to replace lost employees. Likewise, if they legitimately believed in a smaller central government and local democratic rule they would stop trying to micromanage how local governments and universities spend their own money. The irony of the whole thing is that it was the Republicans and the so-called &quot;family values&quot; crowd that opened the door to &quot;roommates&quot; being eligible for benefits, and now they have the gall to use the fact that the system that they forced the creation of is imperfect to push through yet another attack on GLBT families. I only hope that Snyder has a little more moral integrity and better &quot;family values&quot; than these Bible-thumping hatemongers, and hasn't completely sold his soul to the Tea Party; he said he opposed such legislation for the same reasons outlined by Mary Sue Coleman when the first version of this was proposed in the spring- even disregarding the issues of fairness, it's just a really bad business decision that puts the state and its institutions at a competitive disadvantage in recruiting and retaining top-notch educators, scientists, administrators, and engineers- not to mention the damage it would do to the state's reputation as we try to attract new businesses.


Tue, Nov 15, 2011 : 5:29 p.m.

UNIQUE TALENTS, SKILLS, AND EXPERTISE : I need to know as to how people use &quot;Unique Talents, Skills, and Expertise&quot; in the selection of their domestic partners. In matters that pertain to selection of domestic partners, why is that we do not insist upon the value of using talent, skill, and expertise? Do we need talent, skill, and expertise only in matters that pertain to job selection? Love is a complex emotional instinct. For proper selection of a domestic partner, the person must be able to use reason, regulate the emotional desire, direct the sexual passion, and restrain the sexual desire to formulate unique relationships. To prove my talent, skill, and expertise to formulate a relationship, I would rather pay $3,000 and keep my job which needs unique talents, skills, and expertise.


Tue, Nov 15, 2011 : 2:25 p.m.

I dream of a day when &quot;we need to balance the budget&quot; (because insuring those 12 families at U-M is WAY OVER THE TOP) is no longer accepted code for homophobia. Let's call it what it is, all right? It's elected officials pandering to the edges of their base so they can continue to do nothing meaningful without losting votes. Yay.


Tue, Nov 15, 2011 : 2:19 p.m.

Only in Ann Arbor! Why should homosexual couples get benefits for their partners when heterosexual couples cannot get benefits for their partners, if they are unmarried. You get such a distorted view from the very loud MINORITY in Ann Arbor...IT GETS SO ANNOYING!


Thu, Nov 17, 2011 : 10:09 p.m.

No, you can not. You can however, count on me not throwing a fit if it does change. It's common for people to use &quot;neanderthal&quot; to describe something other then prehistoric man, kind of like some other people use the term &quot;ape&quot;, or &quot;monkey&quot;to describe humans. All are an insult used to make the name caller feel superior. And same sex marriage has a long history of not being legal, don't blame &quot;conservatives&quot; on the Supreme Court. They weren't alive when the &quot;ban' originated.

Edward R Murrow's Ghost

Thu, Nov 17, 2011 : 6:11 p.m.

You are correct in that I ultimately don't get to decide what the 14th Amendment means, but at least I understand what it says and how it has been applied in the past (e.g., the constitutionality of miscegenation laws). The same concept applies here. I will grant you that the so-called &quot;conservatives&quot; on the court have been in the habit recently of overturning decades of precedent, but it is hard to see how current laws will stand scrutiny with even this court. And it is clear that they will soon hear a case on gay marriage, likely from California. As for name-calling, I suggest you look up the definition. It is an appropriate use of the word. Nowhere did I call you one. Indeed, you say you are not opposed to gay marriage. Wonderful!! Then my statement does not apply to you. So can we count on your support to legalize gay marriage in the State of Michigan? Of course we can! GN&amp;GL


Thu, Nov 17, 2011 : 3:42 p.m.

&quot;Both violate the 14th Amendment's equal protection clause.' As wise as you seem to feel you are, that's not for you to decide. And since you have resorted to personal attacks, this &quot;neanderthal&quot; will exit the conversation. Good Night.

Edward R Murrow's Ghost

Thu, Nov 17, 2011 : 12:03 p.m.

Just as society set standards that, until recently, prevented blacks from marrying whites. And there were &quot;good societal&quot; reasons for doing so, often dressed up in the rhetoric of religion. Racism was the only reason for those laws. Homophobia on the part of Neanderthals is the only reason for these. Both violate the 14th Amendment's equal protection clause. But feel free to marry your cat if you like. I don't think anyone will care. GN&amp;GL


Thu, Nov 17, 2011 : 2:36 a.m.

ERMG You gloss over my point that society has set certain standards of what constitutes a marriage. Do you suggest we shouldn't be allowed to do that? Gays certainly can (and do)get married, to a person of the opposite sex. Straights are not allowed to marry people of the same sex. The rules apply equally to all. Health reason or not, I can not marry my first cousin, even if we don't intend to, or can't, have children. Why not? Because of societies rules. And since a marriage is nothing but a legal contract anyway, why can't I marry my cat? It's legal to name an animal in a will, correct? If we want to throw out societies rules, it should be legal to marry anyone, anything, and any number at one time. This is not to say I'm bothered by gay marriage, or benefits to spouses. Just that rules are rules, and we have them for a reason.

Edward R Murrow's Ghost

Wed, Nov 16, 2011 : 10:50 p.m.

&quot;But until we do, the law is fair, because it applies equally to all.&quot; No, it does not apply equally to all. Current law allows two heterosexuals to marry. It does not permit two homosexual to marry. These laws clearly violate the 14th Amendment's equal protection clause. Last time I check, there was no law that permitted the marriage of 3 people, only 2. The day that 3 equals 2 is the day that the Equal Protection clause will come to bear. Cousins are prevented from marrying for health reasons. Check out the medical history of the inbred Hapsburgs and Romanovs if you want a reason why those marriages are illegal. And as for marrying animals, welcome to the reductio ad absurdum argument--a classic tactic of Neanderthals to justify their unjustifiable positions. GN&amp;GL


Wed, Nov 16, 2011 : 1:30 a.m.

@guyfroma2mi: Why should we limit it to 2 consenting adults? Why not 3 or more? Or no age limits? Why can't I marry my first cousin? Or my cat? Because we, as a society, sets rules about marriage. They may not be fair to 1st cousins, but they are what they are. If we decide to allow gays to marry each other, fine. it's within the rules. But until we do, the law is fair, because it applies equally to all. Two members of the same sex can not marry, whether they're gay or not.


Tue, Nov 15, 2011 : 11:01 p.m.

Actually, you are mistaken; following the passage of the anti-gay marriage amendment, the policy was revised to allow for benefits to be extended to a &quot;second qualifying adult&quot;. So yes, an unmarried heterosexual partner can indeed collect benefits. And as noted by Edward R Murrow's Ghost, I gather that since you're all about fairness you must be in favor of extending the institution of marriage to any two consenting adults; perhaps the loud minority that you're referring to is those that voted for the anti-gay marriage amendment in 2004, since every single precinct in Ann Arbor voted it down, and it was our local elected officials and elected Board of Regents (not busybody legislators from the UP) that has protected these benefits with overwhelming community support.

Edward R Murrow's Ghost

Tue, Nov 15, 2011 : 2:48 p.m.

Gays cannot get married. heterosexual couples can. So, I take it that you must support gay marriage, right? GN&amp;GL


Tue, Nov 15, 2011 : 1:59 p.m.

It sure seems to me that the MI GOP is bound and determined to put as many obstacles as possible in the way of our education system in this state. This at a time when we all now that education is the key to this countries and states success in the coming decades. Cut pay, cut benefits, remove unemployment for third party contractors working for education systems (but nobody else?), cut funding. How do they square this with the need to have the most educated workforce in order to compete in the globalized market? If we want &quot;government to run like a business&quot; should we not be like most businesses and use wage/benefit packages to attract the best people? Why the continued attack on gay people? I thought the GOP was about &quot;freedom&quot;, &quot;liberty&quot; and adults being free from government constraints? Or is that just for advertising purposes?

Edward R Murrow's Ghost

Tue, Nov 15, 2011 : 3:02 p.m.

That clearly is the result, clownfish, but I honestly do not think it their goal. The goal is to go to war with their enemies (teachers, gays, union members, etc... ) as a motivational tool to get their Neanderthal supporters out to vote. Having done this, their true goal is to turn the state over to their business buddies. And this is already happening. The sharp cuts to schools and to local units of government clearly are meant to create fiscal crises that will lead to the appointment of EFMs. Indeed, given the turnout to the Snyder admin's seminar for potential EFMs, that appear to likely be the states only growth industry. <a href="" rel='nofollow'></a> Good Night and Good Luck


Tue, Nov 15, 2011 : 1:02 p.m.

I have an idea. How about both of the &quot;single&quot; people in these relationships get a job and pay for their health insurance like the rest of us do. Next we taxpayers will be paying for insurance for dogs and cats, because they just can't afford their own! Oh, and I understand why this wouldn't bother Ms. Coleman, as she makes north of $750,000 a year, and a few more taxes wouldn't bother her!


Tue, Nov 15, 2011 : 2:22 p.m.

FTR, I'm not single. Rock on with that idea, though. I'm SURE it will gain traction VERY SOON.


Tue, Nov 15, 2011 : 1:44 p.m.

Or, alternately, we could live in an actual &quot;free&quot; society and adults could choose to marry whomever they wish.


Tue, Nov 15, 2011 : 1:43 p.m.

Maybe the legislature should treat the workers at state facilities the same way they treat themselves? &quot;The rest of us&quot; that work for companies that have these benefits have our spouses covered by most employer sponsored insurance, like legislators do.

C. S. Gass

Tue, Nov 15, 2011 : 10:07 a.m.

This is what you get with one party in control of a states government. Do they do things that fix fiscal problems? No. They opt for social engineering and 'getting people' in this case 'the gays'. How about this? Work the problem. Cut the budget, and stop telling other entities, such as U of M or non state governments for another example, how to do business. Democrat or Republican, we all lose because this is the kind of garbage we get. I'm voting Libertarian next time.


Tue, Nov 15, 2011 : 2:30 a.m.

nice try gonefishing but they are cutting the money for hungry kids that live in poverty too.Way to try to sound caring though.


Tue, Nov 15, 2011 : 1:46 a.m.

I join the others in commending Mary Sue Coleman for speaking out about the hypocrisy of the efforts to deny benefits to those who are being deemed &quot;undesirables&quot; by those whose moral values seem to be based more on spewing hate and self righteous pomposity than in governance for the best interests of Michigan. I imagine these are the same individuals who also believe that bullying is ok if it is done for &quot;christian&quot; reasons against those who are deemed less worthy or less christian. We witnessed an flagrant example of that with the State's assistant AG going after the gay student on the U of M campus. The governmental affairs of Michigan are hitting the national news in not good ways. We have already lost so many exemplary highly qualified residents who have been forced to leave Michigan because of the religious fervor of the few in their efforts to prohibit modern day business enterprises. We need to keep these ill advised efforts in mind for the next election cycle.


Tue, Nov 15, 2011 : 1:43 a.m.

I have the perfect solution----coleman can donate part of her overpaid salary or perks to contribute to this huge problem at UM------and forgo any pay increases for the duration of her stay----If this program is that big of a deal for UM--I am sure the UM has enough money to make this problem go away---See folks, the taxpayers of this state and county has had enough of the University taking what little money we have for our families and giving it to folks like this program and Coleman ---the problem with socialism is that it runs out of other people's money----just refer to the programs in Europe----and who will bail out these socialist bums--why the taxpayers in the USA--but hey , we want to be just like Europe , ----get real----everybody is paying for their health cost---start taking care of the children in this state , who can't afford to eat properly----let the big money take care of their own------The Michigan Legislature needs to hold firm---that is why they won by such a wide margin----


Tue, Nov 15, 2011 : 1:39 p.m.

I referred to Germany, a socialistic state, and they cover their children and are not running out of money. I refereed to Norway, similar. Norway reported a government budget surplus equivalent to 10.6 percent of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in 2010. I referred to Sweden, not bankrupt. Maybe your analogy is incorrect?


Tue, Nov 15, 2011 : 1:24 p.m.

I'm having a difficult time deciphering your post, but I did catch this: &quot;----start taking care of the children in this state....&quot; Medical care is necessary in order to take care of the children. I have enough difficulty taking care of my children's medical needs *with* health insurance, I would never be able to afford proper treatment for them without it.


Tue, Nov 15, 2011 : 12:34 a.m.

This isn't about saving money. This is about being as nasty and hateful to gay families as possible. Well, after the University of Michigan finishes paying for my very expensive graduate education, I'll be leaving the state and taking my tax-paying gay family with me. I mean, the weather's nice and all, but I don't want to live in a state run by homophobes.

Chancey's mom

Tue, Nov 15, 2011 : 3:17 a.m.

I might be taking my hetero-family right with you. I can't tolerate this intolerance!


Tue, Nov 15, 2011 : 12:23 a.m.

I was thinking anyone at the University made $135,000 on up for 1 yr. It is published in the Ann Arbor News every year what is made. Why can't you buy your own insurance if you make that kind of money!!! I make $8.00 an hour and have to contribute $22.00 a week for a mediocre policy. Also they don't give heterosexual couple's that are just living together and have children together benefits. Thank you Rick Snyder for having the guts to do something. Michigan is bankrupt and it can't keep going on the way is was. Can't you people wake up. Also all you people from the U of M driving your foreign cars are getting your payback for not buying an American made car where the profits stay in American not going back to Japan or China. I always say what goes around comes around.


Tue, Nov 15, 2011 : 4:53 a.m.

You're wrong about the OQA coverage. Heterosexual cohabiting couples qualify. And I don't think covering around 200 family members at U-M is what killed the Michigan economy.

Chancey's mom

Tue, Nov 15, 2011 : 3:10 a.m.

russellr, Please check out that published article of University salaries again. My husband has worked as an assistant prof for 5 years and is not even making even half of $135K. He also does not get his benefits from U of M but from my public schools job (of which I pay a large portion). I agree that your $8 an hour is not enough to scrape by on, but have you invested in two undergrad, two masters, and one doctoral degree? (And, no, his parents did not contribute a penny!) My point is, do not begrudge health benefits of anyone based on misinformation and ESPECIALLY on your own personal taste of what qualifies as a family!


Mon, Nov 14, 2011 : 11:10 p.m.

I thought and I guess I'm wrong, Michigan voted and passed a constitutional admendment to disallow benifits to gay couples. It appears the city and Univ decided they did not have to live up to the spirit of the admendment and designed an even more costly solution. Maybe we should instead pass a law that reduces the univ presidents salary by the cost of the benifits.


Tue, Nov 15, 2011 : 4:56 a.m.

They're not benefits to gay couples. They're benefits for other qualifying adults, and there are heterosexual couples who benefit from them. The difference is that they could choose to be married, and Michigan denies me access to a civil contract of marriage. So really, it's nice that the straight people benefit from this coverage.

Tony Livingston

Tue, Nov 15, 2011 : 12:20 a.m.

Maybe we should put your benefits up for a vote!


Mon, Nov 14, 2011 : 10:45 p.m.

Let them leave we need a little more diversity in A2.


Mon, Nov 14, 2011 : 10:37 p.m.

i agree with mary sue. this is a college community. this different from saline, dexter etc. i say we need to have the best and smartest people here. this is another snyder and rep piece of junk. i think they should limit how many kids we have. i think they should limit how much coffee we drink a day. how about our great people in lansing give up some of their perks. i really think we are so messed up. why would you come a live in michigan.


Mon, Nov 14, 2011 : 10:33 p.m.

That's okay. A lot of straight folks and other gay folks out there looking for work who would like to fill the openings when these unhappy employees clear out. There are straight and gay folks that are willing to overlook the this small fact and look at all the other great benefits the university has to offer. But something tells me if this bill passes, these employees that are threatening to leave won't find greener pastures then the ones UM provides for them.

CE Whiting

Wed, Nov 16, 2011 : 8:13 p.m.

If UM removes partner benefits, there are plenty of other tier one institutions offering such benefits. UM is a great university, but not the only one.

Edward R Murrow's Ghost

Mon, Nov 14, 2011 : 10:43 p.m.

Yeah. World-class researchers aren't in high demand. The Big Lie: This is being done to save the state money. 1) It costs the state no money for benefits provided by colleges, universities, states, K-12 schools, and local units of government 2) If these people leave and are replaced by a heterosexual couple, the costs are likely to be same if not higher (family with children is more costly). This is being done for one reason: Republicans find gays an easy target around which to rally the Neanderthals who support their party. Good Night and Good Luck


Mon, Nov 14, 2011 : 10:28 p.m.

Congrats to &quot;Gay&quot; Terri and your making a dent in Iowa's economy to go there to get married. Any other states wishing to improve their economies should welcome all marriages and unions and those who choose not to (also cause for celebration). And to second David Briegel, yes, I wonder which family values platform this week's second runner-up in the GOP gaggle, the Newt, wishes to claim: his first marriage, his second one who was dying of cancer while the current one (the third) was engaging in an award-winning performance of her own (also while he was busy prosecuting President Clinton for doing something during his still sacred one and only marriage).


Tue, Nov 15, 2011 : 2:07 p.m.

Thanks, dogpaddle!

Mike D.

Mon, Nov 14, 2011 : 10:25 p.m.

<a href="" rel='nofollow'></a> Starting on page 40 of the PDF linked above (in column 3a), you can see that the overwhelming majority of Fortune 500 companies offer same-sex benefits. If the University is what makes Ann Arbor what it is, and the University turns into an exclusionary backwater, what does Ann Arbor become? Howell?

Ryan J. Stanton

Mon, Nov 14, 2011 : 9:17 p.m.

In case anyone is interested, I just checked with the city of Ann Arbor to find out how many people receive domestic partner benefits through the city and city officials tell me there are 12 adults receiving &quot;other qualified adult&quot; coverage right now.


Mon, Nov 14, 2011 : 10:08 p.m.

There having a run on pitch forks at the Garden Center.

Dante Marcos

Mon, Nov 14, 2011 : 9:11 p.m.

I think that some of's consumers don't understand that while there certainly are same-sex partners covered by UM health insurance, there are also scores of heterosexual couples covered, who, for whatever reason, have not officially married. Are those marriages less &quot;okay&quot; than officialized marriages? Of course not.

Edward R Murrow's Ghost

Mon, Nov 14, 2011 : 9:55 p.m.

The difference Dante is that they have the option of marriage. Gay couples do not. GN&amp;GL

Edward R Murrow's Ghost

Mon, Nov 14, 2011 : 8:52 p.m.

&quot;Family values&quot; apparently includes discrimination against those one does not like. Thank-You, President Coleman, for speaking out. This is a dumb and hateful law. But, given who in in power in Lansing, anything else would be shocking. Good Night and Good Luck

hut hut

Mon, Nov 14, 2011 : 7:55 p.m.

So we'll lose the tolerant families for those who will support intolerance for money.


Mon, Nov 14, 2011 : 7:40 p.m.

Once &quot;Obamacare&quot; kicks in, doesn't that solve the problem. Everyone is going to be insured once universal healthcare kicks in.

Edward R Murrow's Ghost

Tue, Nov 15, 2011 : 3:25 p.m.

Nope. Under &quot;Obamacare) everyone will have to be insured and there will be exchanges established to make that happen. The &quot;dependent spouse&quot; of the heterosexual couple will not have to participate in that system because they will received benefits at a very low cost through their spouse. Why should the &quot;dependent spouse&quot; of a gay couple have to do otherwise, likely at a substantially higher out-of-pocket cost than for the &quot;dependent spouse&quot; of the heterosexual couple? Answer: because homophobic Neanderthals insist on imposing their values on others. But, then, you were really asking a serious question, were you? Nope. You were taking a swipe at the Affordable Health Care Act, but now you know more than you really wanted to know. Presuming you bother to read this. Not likely. Good Night and Good Luck


Tue, Nov 15, 2011 : 1:31 p.m.

There is no such thing as &quot;Obamacare&quot;. Just as there is no such thing as harm caused to society by gay marriage.


Mon, Nov 14, 2011 : 9:52 p.m.

That's in 2014 .... 3 years from now.


Mon, Nov 14, 2011 : 7:37 p.m.

Why not just insure the employee and if they elect to have their domestic partners insured they pay for it?

Mike D.

Mon, Nov 14, 2011 : 10:48 p.m.

Agreed. And do the same for married spouses and any step-children. Think of the savings!


Mon, Nov 14, 2011 : 7:30 p.m.

The only way this bill saves any money is if the employees who leave are replaced by single folks who promise never to marry or reproduce. Just admit your agenda, Rep. Agema. We're not that stupid.

Joe Kidd

Mon, Nov 14, 2011 : 7:14 p.m.

If administrators are UM were not so overpaid I would give more credence to what they say. I am indifferent on this. I think the argument that costs would be the same for non married partners or married would be about the same makes great sense, so savings is a non issue. Unfortunately I know of a certain director at UM now who might leave if this were to happen and just for that I would support this law since this individual has ruined a workplace and is able to get away with behavior that would not be tolerated from anyone else. Unfortunately at UM there is a double standard based on your position. When employees are afraid to report such behavior you have a problem in your organization. It has worsened under Ms. Coleman.

Joe Kidd

Sun, Nov 20, 2011 : 12:50 a.m.

Well, after he leaves we could re-instate the policy.


Mon, Nov 14, 2011 : 7:29 p.m.

So you are willing to support a ban on these critically important benefits for 570 adults and 48 children because you know of a director at UofM who might leave because they have &quot;ruined a workplace&quot; due to getting away with a behavioral issue? Oh my goodness. Unbelievable, truly unbelievable.


Mon, Nov 14, 2011 : 7:14 p.m.

Really, Mary Sue Coleman. Everything that is The University of Michigan -the centuries of working, dreaming and leading- was just a prelude to Rick Snyder's Lansing. Has there been bully sightings at the school house? The new hires not up to speed? Call Lansing, their legislating. Need proof that kids are fat? You are in luck. Lansing is hitting its heights.


Mon, Nov 14, 2011 : 7:10 p.m.

This would all be moot if workers received their full compensation as salary and either bought health insurance and such on their own or had the full cost of it deducted from their salary as a line item on their paycheck. Instead we're misdirected into arguing over social policy. Unfortunately, tax policy heavily favors larding up on bennies that the employer can buy for workers tax-free but workers can't buy for themselves without paying at least payroll taxes, 15.3% of gross wages, first. The Fair Tax would go a long way towards fixing that.


Mon, Nov 14, 2011 : 6:29 p.m.

If the argument is that eliminating partner benefits will save the state $$, then why isn't the bill sexual-orientation neutral? Shouldn't it also ban benefits for non-insured married spouses (heterosexual) and their families? Of course not. . . that would be obsurd. I can't imagine anything more incompassionate than refusing to allow heath insurance for some familes but not for others. When did we, as a state, check our compassion at the door? And by the way, I'm a married, heterosexual person. My stomach is sick thinking about how many people have already supported this bill. Sad. So, so, sad.

Joe Kidd

Mon, Nov 14, 2011 : 7:06 p.m.

That has been considered in some sectors, based on how fiscal issues. Springport, MI did it to the police chief: <a href="" rel='nofollow'></a> So be careful what we wish for, huh?


Mon, Nov 14, 2011 : 6:20 p.m.

Thank you for speaking out, Ms. Coleman.


Mon, Nov 14, 2011 : 6:12 p.m.

The hypocrisy of the Republican party and its views on same sex marriage are breathtaking. The party that promotes a Government that is &quot;inconsequential&quot; in it's citizens lives, a party that will fight tooth and nail over a citizen's right to bare arms; won't allow it's citizens to choose whom to marry, or even allow s/he to provide health insurance to their partner and children. My gut feeling (wishful thinking?) is that Rick Snyder had to go along with these views to get a rubber stamp from the GOP, motivated by his tax reform agenda. I look forward to seeing what he does if/when this reaches his desk. All these efforts to block the inevitable...there will be a day when we are allowed to choose whom we marry without interference from the govt. This is a civil rights issue. In the meantime, the accidental Republican campaign to convert followers to Independents will continue.

David Briegel

Mon, Nov 14, 2011 : 6:03 p.m.

And the &quot;family values&quot; gang doesn't include all families! Only the &quot;chosen&quot; families! Denying rights to one group at a time.


Mon, Nov 14, 2011 : 7:32 p.m.

David...we don't always agree but we're absolutely on the same page on this issue. Kudos to mary sue coleman for being so forthright---and correct ( as opposed to simply 'politically correct')--- on this matter.


Mon, Nov 14, 2011 : 6 p.m.

&quot;...She also noted that several giant Michigan fortune 500 companies, including Dow Chemical Co., Ford Motor Co., General Motors Corp. and Whirlpool Corp., offer domestic benefits...&quot; Bankruptcy rate of these examples is 25%. I don't know if that's good or bad.

Joe Kidd

Mon, Nov 14, 2011 : 6:58 p.m.

Also, if it became a fiscal issue, they would stop it too. Also, it makes no sense for Ms. Coleman to compare private company employers with a public institution since their income is based on the success of their business not on tax dollars. She should know better than that.

Buster W.

Mon, Nov 14, 2011 : 5:45 p.m.

&quot;Rep. Dave Agema, a Republican who sponsored the bill, contends it will save millions in state dollars each year. Exact numbers have been contested.&quot; &quot;Coleman said that this year 570 adults and 48 children receive domestic partner benefits through a U-M healthcare plan.&quot; Hey Mr. Agema, If savings are what you're really after, then this bill is not the answer. My guess is their &quot;replacements&quot; would account at least the same, if not more dependents, resulting in higher benefits costs. Man up and state why you're really against it!

Buster W.

Mon, Nov 14, 2011 : 5:51 p.m.

...against dpb...for the bill.


Mon, Nov 14, 2011 : 5:40 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 two: California and New York. Now, of course, they will offer the ultimate in logic: just move there 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 which prevents animus towards any individuals or groups. 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 business 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 are the republicans 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, far great than that spent on the benefits themselves?


Tue, Nov 15, 2011 : 4:39 a.m.

Actually, see the link in the post below - it looks to be closer to 90%


Mon, Nov 14, 2011 : 9:46 p.m.

Recent reports indicate that between 75-90% of S&amp;P 500 companies offer Domestic Partner Benefits as a business necessity. Feel free to google.

Marshall Applewhite

Mon, Nov 14, 2011 : 8:59 p.m.

I'd like to see some evidence that &quot;most private employers offer domestic partner benefits&quot;. While I'm sure more employers offer them than the general public assumes, there is simply no way they are offered by more than 50% of all private employers in this country.

rusty shackelford

Mon, Nov 14, 2011 : 5:31 p.m.

My prediction: this will get rolled in to some larger &quot;cost savings&quot; bill that Snyder will then sign. That way he doesn't pick a fight with the homophobes controlling his party while being able to claim to the general public he &quot;had no choice&quot; but to go along because the other cost savings were necessary, standard boilerplate etc, etc.