House-approved education budget adds 5 percent cut to Michigan universities that offer domestic partner benefits
On top of a 15 percent cut to Michigan universities, the state education budget approved Thursday night by House Republicans would add an additional 5 percent cut to universities that offer domestic partner benefits to their employees.
Among entities that would be affected is the University of Michigan, the largest employer in Washtenaw County.
Ari Adler, spokesman for Republican House Speaker Jase Bolger, said universities can get the 5 percent back if they prove by Dec. 1 they are not providing health insurance or other fringe benefits for any adult roommate of an employee who is not married to that employee, or for any dependents of any adult roommates.
State Rep. Jeff Irwin, D-Ann Arbor, today criticized what he considers an attack on gay rights. He doesn't think it'll pass in the Senate, but if it does, U-M would either have to stop offering domestic partner benefits or lose more state funding.
The amendment was proposed by state Rep. Dave Agema, R-Grandville, and passed with support from the Republican majority.
"It was a complete surprise to me when Rep. Agema stood up and made this speech about punishing universities for violating our moral code as a state," Irwin said. "He did raise the issue of morality specifically, and he did use the word 'punish' specifically."
Agema posted on his Facebook page today that "the hate mail and threats are already coming in from the gay community."
"It seems they think colleges are above the law," he said. "They didn't like my amendment to stop same sex/unmarried benefits the colleges are providing against the will of the people in 2004, the AG's decision, the Supreme Courts ruling of 2008 and Article 8 Sec 1 of the State Constitution. Apparently they like the term 'Above the law.'"
Irwin pointed out many major employers like Dow Chemical and Ford Motor Co. offer domestic partner benefits. He said he fears eliminating them for universities like U-M would hurt their ability to promote diversity and attract talented employees.
"It's just another bigoted swipe at the segment of our population that chooses to have same-sex relationships," he said. "It's unfair and it's suggesting the work some people perform is more valuable than the work other people perform just because of their choice of lifestyle."
Adler says the GOP sees the issue differently.
"As we see it, the constitution does not allow for public tax dollars to be used to provide benefits for unmarried couples who are living together," he said. "Having a taxpayer-funded organization, whether it's the state government or a university, providing benefits to people who are unmarried is just a significant financial burden that we can't afford. I think for some folks it is a moral issue and for others it is a financial issue."
Agema told AnnArbor.com universities are wasting what he estimates to be $7,000 to $10,000 a year for each person they provide with domestic partner benefits.
"They're breaking the law, in my opinion, and they complain they don't have money," he said. "They're not above the law."
Ryan J. Stanton covers government and politics for AnnArbor.com. Reach him at email@example.com or 734-623-2529. You also can follow him on Twitter or subscribe to AnnArbor.com's e-mail newsletters.
Tue, May 10, 2011 : 3:24 a.m.
How did this proposal handle a "seperation" or "divorce"? Do folks just get to change partners "at will" with no "divorce consequences" and taxpayers pay for all medical? What about fraud? Someone needs a transplant so government employee claims a "partner"? Are their "oaths" involved? Under ppenalty of "perjury"? Do we have union cooperation to prosecute fraud aggressively? This thing is so full of holes it's a pathetic.
Wed, May 11, 2011 : 10:10 a.m.
If you have an OQA, you are required on request to prove that relationship. The U-M just completed a dependent audit last year where every person was required to show evidence that their children were their legal responsibility and that their spouse or OQA was in a de facto partnership with them. I've had company-provided benefits for 18 years, and I've never been asked to prove my relationship to the people I covered, in private or government jobs. So it may be easier not to be offended if you know what the actual situation is.
Tue, May 10, 2011 : 1:26 a.m.
Don, Just don't tell Shep, He likes them in the back of his bus! And he enjoys his role as bedroom monitor. After all Shep Know Best! And Shep, that IS the same silly argument that was used by the noble saints who were against interracial marriage. Heterophobic? Which dictionary did Shep use to find that one? Is there a bigotry dictionary?
Mon, May 9, 2011 : 12:02 a.m.
This may surprise some of you, but I think that the state should have a constitutional amendment that makes any combination of adults a legal "partner" contract. Two men, two women, man and woman, two women and a man, one woman and 3 men, etc. The state does not belong in the bedroom at all. Now, if you enter into a relationship, all partners are responsible for minor children, regardless of biological parentage. Dissolving the partnership, does not dissolve the requirement to support the minor children.
Sun, May 8, 2011 : 3:07 a.m.
Michigan voters have made themselves perfectly clear on this matter – homosexual couples are not to be treated as married when spending our tax dollars. Private businesses can offer any benefits they wish to who ever they wish but NOT the public sector. It's unlikely the complaining heterophobics voted for Snyder or the constitutional ban on same sex marriages anyway so they simply don't like what the law says – tough luck. …it's finally good to have a governor who enforces our state constitution.
Mon, May 16, 2011 : 11:20 p.m.
You're into this issue in the name of leftist political correctness? Are you sure? …not even in college on spring break at Daytona? I'm disappointed. "Everyone" knows that the Constitution only uses the gender neutral "people" or "person" and never specifically mentions either sex, male or female. So while women may have been much happier when defined as property back in ye good 'ole days, your gender was not left out of the Constitution. Again, it's the nuclear family that's important to society and deserves special encouragement. As defined by our state constitution, homosexuals are simply not part of that discussion.
Sun, May 15, 2011 : 4:42 p.m.
I am married. I have a family. We have children. I'm not clear how we're contributing to the downfall of the nuclear family. Women aren't mentioned in the Constitution either. Does that mean we don't have any civil rights? Religion is a choice. That's explicitly protected by the Constitution. A little internal consistency from the right would be very helpful to you not looking like ignorant reactionaries.
Thu, May 12, 2011 : 12:05 a.m.
Suffering Olympics! LOL Homosexuals are not engaged in a struggle for their civil rights but how annoying would they be if they were!? Can you imagine the parades!? Marriage is not a constitutional right and homosexuals are not protected by the 14th Amendment. The nuclear family that built this nation is considered a valued institution afforded SPECIAL privileges. Homosexuals are not entitled to those privileges. The fact that the nuclear family has been under attack by the left since the 60's as "oppressive to women" has underscored it's value as inferior forms of "family" become more common and their failures a greater burden on society. The right way to look at this is that homosexuals are NOT being penalized, but one man and one women who wish to begin a family together are being encouraged to do so. Marriage does not care about homosexuals either way.
Wed, May 11, 2011 : 10:06 a.m.
I wasn't aware that civil rights were a Suffering Olympics. The US has given many, many groups plenty of discrimination, violence and pain to go around, don't worry. It's not a zero-sum game; the LGBT community having full civil rights as citizens of the US (and, incidentally, tax-payers) and protection for our families, including our children, doesn't take anything away from you. Denying other people rights under the law is just mean-spirited. Is that the person you want to be?
Tue, May 10, 2011 : 10:19 p.m.
I was discussing Meg's errors and used the word "NORMAL"!! Gasp!! All you thin skin softies out there are dodging the point – the absurdity of homosexuals comparing their demand for marriage rights to with the civil rights movement. Those who do so are ignorant of the horrors of that struggle, oblivious of the luxuries they enjoy today or ignorant of the relatively comfortable journey walked by homosexuals or both. …or did ROOTS get it wrong – maybe you can tell us how generations of homosexuals were enslaved for 400 years in the United States? Maybe all those historic tyrants and leaders who historians now claim were homosexuals have been misjudged? Just because a tiny group wants something it can't have does not give them the right to glom onto the civil rights movement. The most substantial problem with granting homosexuals the privilege of marriage is that from there on, there is no natural stopping point for the argument. The choices are either one man and one woman or any assemblage of humans. For those who want more a more philosophical approach, I refer you to Futurama, episode "Proposition Infinity".
Tue, May 10, 2011 : 2:10 a.m.
Shep, that comment is disgusting. Imagine if we were discussing that persecuted minority, the White, Male Christian and compared you to ghosts and robots and .. chickens.. well there's a thought.
Sun, May 8, 2011 : 3:36 a.m.
That's the argument that was made against interracial marriage in Virginia. Virginia v. Loving didn't turn out too well for bigotry there. Votes don't make an unconstitutional stance any more constitutional, anymore than inventing a term like "heterophobic" makes that a real thing. But, you know, whatever makes you feel better.
Sat, May 7, 2011 : 7:20 p.m.
It seems to me that if state legislators have such a problem with tax dollars being used to pay for benefits for same-sex couples, there's a simple solution that would be fair to everyone: don't offer these benefits to any families, gay or straight. And they can start by giving up their own family benefits! I suspect that they'd change their tune very quickly, if faced with the prospect of their own cushy state-paid family policies being taken away, but it's somehow pro-family to take away someone else's, as punishment for not adhering to the state-sponsored religion Likewise, I'd like to see a resolution that cuts their own compensation every time they reduce it for someone else, and cuts their office budgets every time they cut someone else's. Clearly, if they and their offices have enough free time and taxpayer resources to come up with crap like this, which benefits no one and just makes the state less atrractive to the businesses and young professionals we're supposed to be pursuing, then clearly their offices are overfunded and it's time to revisit the notion of a part-time state legislature.
Tue, May 10, 2011 : 1:28 a.m.
In a civilized society we would all have health care and it wouldn't be an issue.
Sat, May 7, 2011 : 4:50 p.m.
This is really a shame and just plain wrong. Shame on our legislators.
Sat, May 7, 2011 : 4:30 p.m.
The sky is falling!
Sat, May 7, 2011 : 10:44 a.m.
This is simply discrimiatory and wrong. If you wanted to cut costs.... Pay only for the employee and have the employee cover costs for spouses and children. Then is would be fair and cheaper for the government. If you hire an employee assuming that the employee may marry and have children who WILL be covered by insurance, why does it matterto you what the gender of the particiapants are? Because you make a religious choice to discriminate against people with another belief. State establishment is prohibited.
Sat, May 7, 2011 : 4:24 a.m.
Disgusting. First cutting education and now rubbing it in our faces. Repeal DOMA, and stop being so homophobic.
Sat, May 7, 2011 : 3:29 a.m.
"Agema told AnnArbor.com universities are wasting what he estimates to be $7,000 to $10,000 a year for each person they provide with domestic partner benefits." ??? Where is he getting this number? The UM benefits website lists what their contribution is for all the insurance they offer. When I worked for the U I had U-M Premier Care, Delta Dental option 2, and vision and added my partner to my benefits when she lost her job. According to the 2011 rate charts, the difference in the University's cost to insure my kids and I versus my partner, my kids and I is $3552.00 a year. Where is the other $3548 to $6548 that they were "wasting" on her? For what it's worth, my taxable income in 2011 would have been increased by a little more than $6000 by adding her, that info is on the website too.
Sat, May 7, 2011 : 7:35 p.m.
I wonder how it is "wasting" money to provide someone with health insurance, and treating employees equally regardless of sexual orientation. What those on the Right don't seem to "get" is that when someone doesnt have health insurance, and requires medical attention, they go to the emergency room- and we all end up paying one way or another anyway, often more than we would have if the person had access to preventive healthcare. Apparently things like family values, and the value of life, only apply to heterosexual families and those that are able to pull their own weight. And I'm sure you're not surprised that his figures have been plucked from the air, with nothing to back it up; he and others in the "moral values" crowd generally don't bother with such trivialities as facts and the truth.
Sat, May 7, 2011 : 2:59 a.m.
Last thing the GOP wants is an educated electorate - if you only support the richest 2% you've got to mislead the other 98% to get at least 50% of the vote, right? - so as long as they're slashing education funding, might as well throw in some discrimination to keep the Fox Noise-types happy.
Sat, May 7, 2011 : 4:35 p.m.
The last thing that the teachers unions want is competition for their jobs. They are fine with the status quo. Just like any monopoly, there is minimal competition making the quality go down while costs go up.
Sat, May 7, 2011 : 1:52 a.m.
This is a hateful, spiteful, angry bill. Sponsored by hateful, spiteful, angry people, and supported by hateful, spiteful, angry people, who are bent turning Michigan into a hateful, spiteful, angry state. Who cares if your private company doesn't provide domestic partner benefits? Do you aspire to nothing more than hatefully, spitefully and angrily insuring that no one gets more benefit than you? The incessant drumbeat of hateful, spiteful, angry people cheering all of this self-defeating austerity, is sickening. Attracting jobs? Right. Who will want to live in a dirt poor state, filled with selfish, angry, spiteful people, who care nothing of having a civil society, or helping their communities or neighbors. Slash and burn the budget, angrily punish the heathens who dare not to be straight and married. Trash the unions. Trash the firefighters. Trash the police. One day you will wake up, laid-off, and destitute, secure in the knowledge that the wealthy, of which you will never, ever be a part, will be treated by some infantile notion of fairness. The level of discourse on this site is pathetic, and, no doubt my intemperate post will be deleted by the lame, arbitrary, censorship or Ann Arbor.coms unevenly applied "guidelines".
Sat, May 7, 2011 : 1:51 a.m.
If this state seriously wants to drive away its college students, its seniors, its retirees, its skilled labor and union workers, and now its gay professionals, all of the people who have actually been propping up this God-forsaken state, it will become a backwater like Mississippi and get exactly what it deserves. Look, not everyone in Michigan can sell Amway to each other and make a living. There's nothing to keep an educated person in this state anymore, and I've lived here my whole entire life. The Republican plan: Cheap labor. Section 8 housing everywhere next door to foreclosed houses rotting away. High-school dropouts with no social safety net and multiple felony convictions due to desperation. Straight people having tons of kids who may or may not be married, but who have no income breaking into my garage to steal whatever they can find because they're starving. These "tax breaks" aren't going to balance the budget and they're not going to make any jobs. I'm packing my bags.
Sat, May 7, 2011 : 1:37 a.m.
Guess that 'gesture' of Mary Sue Coleman's to invite Snyder to be the commencement speaker didn't inoculate the UM from his anti-education, anti-gay agenda. Pacts with the devil rarely pay off, Mary Sue.
Sat, May 7, 2011 : 1:23 a.m.
Two thumbs up !
Sat, May 7, 2011 : 1:14 a.m.
What happened to the separation of church and state? At what point will we finally address the real issues that would actually make a difference in this state, rather than both marginalizing and stripping individuals of equal rights?
Sat, May 7, 2011 : 5:01 p.m.
Nice trick there Marshall, deny somebody the right to do something than marginalize them as "live in friends". Why should opposite sex couples be allowed to insure their brats, and spouses? I thought we were paying for the EMPLOYEE, not their multiple children. If you can not afford to insure them on your own, dont have any more. By the way, the budget would be balanced almost immediately by denying ALL non-employees insurance. So if it is a financial question rather than a bigotted question, let the right wing nut jobs offer up that resolution
Sat, May 7, 2011 : 10:49 a.m.
So if my two 'live-in' female friends each marry one of my two 'live-in' male friends it is okay for them to have benefits for free. How about a system where any employee who has someone else covered under their insurance pays for the addition. So an adult would cost X additional and each child Y additional. Saves money. Fair. Oh wait. Those are not the objectives.
Sat, May 7, 2011 : 9:30 a.m.
Which would make sense, if a) Michigan recognized out of state gay marriage or b) performed them. When you don't have that option, thanks to homophobic voters, what would be your alternative proposal?
Sat, May 7, 2011 : 2:34 a.m.
Live-in friends do not deserve equal rights to spouses.
Sat, May 7, 2011 : 1:04 a.m.
Best idea I've heard from the Legislature in a LONG time. It's about time SOMEBODY had some backbone, instead of turning tail.
Sat, May 7, 2011 : 2:01 a.m.
Really? It's the gays that have been holding this state back?
Sat, May 7, 2011 : 12:41 a.m.
Where is the recall petition?
Sat, May 7, 2011 : 10:50 a.m.
I haven't seen anything that I would support a recall for, even things I disagree withsuch as the EFM, until now.
Sat, May 7, 2011 : 2:32 a.m.
I'd be willing to bet that the Lieutenant Gov. is more in favor of this than Gov Snyder.
Edward R Murrow's Ghost
Sat, May 7, 2011 : 12:41 a.m.
This will, almost certainly, be the spark that brings hundreds of thousands of jobs to the State of Michigan. Good Night and Good Luck
Sat, May 7, 2011 : 10:32 a.m.
"spark"? Good one, Gov ed! SPARK knows all about jobs right? LOL
Sat, May 7, 2011 : 12:39 a.m.
Re the special punitiveness toward institutions with gay partner benefits: The ideological / fundamentalist- religious bias and sheer meanspiritedness in even the mainstream Republican party nowadays is worthy of .....the Democrat party(in the days of the civil war/reconstruction, when they spawned cells of the nacent KKK , and pro-slavery 'bushwackers". ( and parallels to Islamic fundamentalists i won't even bother with as too obvious). And i say this as a Democrat ( modern version) who ,more than most, was willing to cut Republicans some slack ...at least on foreign policy matters. But no more.
Fri, May 6, 2011 : 11:55 p.m.
Another clear incentive for the University of Michigan to stop accepting any financial assistance from the State of Michigan and raise all tuitions to out of state levels.
Fri, May 6, 2011 : 11:54 p.m.
As we see it, the constitution does not allow for public tax dollars to be used to provide benefits for unmarried couples who are living together," he said. "Having a taxpayer-funded organization, whether it's the state government or a university, providing benefits to people who are unmarried is just a significant financial burden that we can't afford. It says they must be married to get spousal benefits. That is what spousal benefits are for - spouses, not live-in's no matter how good of friends they are.
Tue, May 10, 2011 : 1:58 p.m.
So, the definition of marriage is "better than suffering"? Really? Well, I'm sorry that's the case for you. And my divorce was quite painless, so I'm not sure what your point is. The issue of divorce when the home state doesn't recognize my marriage is complicated -- Iowa has no jurisdiction to grant me a divorce, should I ever want one. So essentially, we can't get divorced. Sounds married to me.
Tue, May 10, 2011 : 3:11 a.m.
Does Iowa offer "significant other" or "same sex spousal" benefits? My reasoning is that if you don't suffer significantly from a "divorce" then you are not legally married. Simple economics of marriage and divorce apply. Changing partners "at will" and having me pay for their healthcare isn't an option for me.
Sat, May 7, 2011 : 4:57 p.m.
Marshall, Name any other item that another state does not recognize if recognized in another state, Your drivers license is recognized in Michigan, if you are licensed in Iowa. The fact is, it is CLEARLY discriminatory not to offer marriage equality. You can say it any way you want. It is clearly against the 14th amendment. Within 20 years marriage equality will be the law of the land and conservatives will be on the WRONG side of the argument as they have been about interracial marriage, separate but equal, slavery in general, and just about every issue in the country.
Sat, May 7, 2011 : 10:52 a.m.
The constitution does not allow for public tax dollars to be used to provide benefits for married couples either. How about we remove spousal benefits all together.
Sat, May 7, 2011 : 9:28 a.m.
Not according to the registrar of Johnson County, Iowa. Such a shame that Michigan can't read the Consitution as well as Iowa (and Massachusetts, and Connecticut, and New York, and Washington,etc.) and recognize out of state marriage under the full faith and credit clause. Must have something to do with cuts to education.
Sat, May 7, 2011 : 2:31 a.m.
@Meg If this state doesn't recognize your marriage, then you're not legally married.
Sat, May 7, 2011 : 1:59 a.m.
When straight people make the rules as to whether or not you can be married, even when you want to be married, it kind of slants the playing field. Or don't you see it that way? Even atheists can be legally married, so please don't give me your God BS.
Sat, May 7, 2011 : 12:06 a.m.
I'm married to my wife. That Michigan does not consider us married does not change the fact that we are legally married. She is my spouse. Why don't we deserve the same protection as your family? Can you come up with a reason that we should be denied the legal rights of marriage? Oh, I'll give you a hint: This is not a theocracy.
Fri, May 6, 2011 : 11:17 p.m.
Wow.... this is really pathetic.
Fri, May 6, 2011 : 11:16 p.m.
Actually snoopdog, as of 2009, 293 of the Fortune 500 (59%) offered this benefit to their employees. Surprised me too. <a href="http://www.hrc.org/issues/domestic_partner_benefits.htm" rel='nofollow'>http://www.hrc.org/issues/domestic_partner_benefits.htm</a>
Fri, May 6, 2011 : 11:05 p.m.
I'm somewhat in agreement with this because it is so easily abused. However, I believe same-sex marriage should be legal in every way.
Sat, May 7, 2011 : 2:30 a.m.
Yeah, Macabre echoes my opinion here as well. It would be simple for anyone to abuse this.
Sat, May 7, 2011 : 2:09 a.m.
loves_fall: Nah, that's for EVERYTHING ELSE. Inheritance, kids, the right to visit your partner in the hospital, etc. For benefits, the U-M treats us like any married couple. THAT is what upsets this guy--we should have to PROVE that we are gay AND in a committed relationship. I will bet you ten bucks that no one questions opposite sex people about how sincere their marriages are.
Fri, May 6, 2011 : 11:18 p.m.
Do you really think so? I was always under the impression that to get the benefits you had to jump through a bunch of legal hoops with your partner and go through things that opposite-sex couples don't need to do.
Fri, May 6, 2011 : 10:36 p.m.
This legislation is: 1. Spiteful 2. Hateful 'nuff said.
Fri, May 6, 2011 : 10:35 p.m.
Not many private company's offer these benefits to same sex partners. My company won't even cover a spouse if the spouse works and has coverage with their company. This makes sound fiscal sense and if public entities want to abuse their use of tax dollars then they should be penalized. I support this decision 100% and it has nothing to do with "gay bashing". Good Day
Sat, May 7, 2011 : 4:52 p.m.
Jessica, stop with facts for these morons. It just confuses them. MOST Fortune 500 companies offer same sex benefits. I would have no problem with this, if we stop insuring anybody EXCEPT the employee. The kids can go and get a job. The spouse should have their own insurance. If they dont get it, screw em, let them die until they provide payment in advance. This whole fiscal control thing can be taken where ever you want it. Let's try with ending tax subsidies for churches.
Sat, May 7, 2011 : 3:24 a.m.
Good point Snoop. I have read that some public entities have considered dropping dependents from benefits as a cost saving measure. I think it is an idea more organizations, private and public, will implement to stay fiscally sound.
Sat, May 7, 2011 : 3:02 a.m.
Actually, many many private companies now cover partner benefits. More than half of the Fortune 500 companies do.
Fri, May 6, 2011 : 10:33 p.m.
This news is just embarrassing for our state. Some of our legislators are so narrow in their thinking and beliefs they have no business making decisions that affect so many people. My advice...vote them out as soon as possible. (hopefully before the fully vested 6 year period has passed)
Tue, May 10, 2011 : 3:05 a.m.
Any idea how to pay for the "feel good" spending?
Fri, May 6, 2011 : 9:54 p.m.
I find it interesting that taxpayers were never involved in this "union give away" then when taxpayer representatives take it away it turns into "gay bashing" "union busting" and an attack on education. How about calling it what it is "fair fiscal use of tax dollars"through the democratic process instead of backroom influence pedaling. Someone has to keep all the "takers" at bay...look what you've done for the economy so far.
Fri, May 6, 2011 : 9:25 p.m.
Republican have an amazing ability to shoot themselves in the foot.
Fri, May 6, 2011 : 9:39 p.m.
They missed their thick heads!
Fri, May 6, 2011 : 9:10 p.m.
Fine with me, as long as the public universities are allowed to raise tuition by 5% for Christians.
Mon, May 9, 2011 : 5:43 a.m.
Nothing like failure to recognize democracy unless it agrees with you.
Fri, May 6, 2011 : 9:01 p.m.
It might be a mott issue down the road. The AG is looking to remedy the matter through the courts. i wonder what kind of benefits he gets when he is no longer in office? <a href="http://www.freep.com/article/20110506/NEWS15/110506043/Michigan-AG-Schuette-sues-block-domestic-partner-benefits-?odyssey=tab" rel='nofollow'>http://www.freep.com/article/20110506/NEWS15/110506043/Michigan-AG-Schuette-sues-block-domestic-partner-benefits-?odyssey=tab</a>|topnews|text|FRONTPAGE
Fri, May 6, 2011 : 9:32 p.m.
Moot, not mott.
Fri, May 6, 2011 : 8:59 p.m.
Representative Jeff Irwin's photo shows how happy he is with the education budget.
Fri, May 6, 2011 : 8:45 p.m.
The actual bill is House Bill 4325 (2011), and the text we're discussing is Sec 274A. If you care about it, contact your MI Senator today before they vote.  Check the voting record of the House, and if you don't like how they voted contact your Representative and let them know! If you do like how they voted, contact them and let them know!  <a href="http://www.legislature.mi.gov/(S(mki02uymjeobmojkghelji55))/mileg.aspx?page=getObject&objectName=2011-HB-4325" rel='nofollow'>http://www.legislature.mi.gov/(S(mki02uymjeobmojkghelji55))/mileg.aspx?page=getObject&objectName=2011-HB-4325</a>  <a href="http://www.senate.michigan.gov/fysenator/fysenator.htm" rel='nofollow'>http://www.senate.michigan.gov/fysenator/fysenator.htm</a>  Roll Call No. 102 in Document 2011 HJ 40 . <a href="http://www.legislature.mi.gov/(S(mki02uymjeobmojkghelji55))/documents/2011-2012/Journal/House/htm/2011-HJ-05-05-040.htm" rel='nofollow'>http://www.legislature.mi.gov/(S(mki02uymjeobmojkghelji55))/documents/2011-2012/Journal/House/htm/2011-HJ-05-05-040.htm</a>  <a href="http://www.house.mi.gov/mhrpublic/" rel='nofollow'>http://www.house.mi.gov/mhrpublic/</a>
Fri, May 6, 2011 : 8:27 p.m.
We Need Change and We Need it Now. This thing we call religion has corrupted the way people think. Dave Agema is bucking for a better position by playing the Gay Card as far as I'm concerned. Besides this is a step backwards in prejudice elimination. As long as prejudice is present in government, the poorly educated people will follow suit and make more trouble towards gays. They chase and kill the butterfly and they don't know why. Stop killing the butterfly's.
Fri, May 6, 2011 : 8:25 p.m.
So I've got an idea. We can just stop spending any money on education by cutting funding to any school that employs or admits anyone who isn't a white, male, middle-aged, evangelical, republican, card-carrying NRA member who drives a Chevy. Who needs diversity of any kind? Problem solved.
Fri, May 6, 2011 : 9:02 p.m.
alan, don't give Mike any ideas!
Fri, May 6, 2011 : 8:11 p.m.
I am so furious over this I can barely type. This is nothing but a clear case of religious views being applied under the veil of saving tax dollars. If this is the case, then why are my tax dollars being used to support someone's choice to marry. I deserve the same amount of compensation attributed to a married person fringe benefit support, but am denied those dollars due to my marital status of single. FYI you incompetent legislators, your measly appropriations barely cover a portion of any Michigan University's overall revenue. Take an accounting class or better yet, open a book that wasn't written 2000 years ago!
Sat, May 7, 2011 : midnight
I believe the law states you have to be married to get this a spousal benefit. Therefore, anyone living together and is not married cannot qualify. You need to read the facts of the bill before you get bent out of shape. It has nothing to do with being gay - it has to do with qualifying for spousal benefits. Not a spouse - you don't qualify. Same for correct or gay people.
Ryan J. Stanton
Fri, May 6, 2011 : 8:03 p.m.
For those curious, House Bill 4325 is the education budget bill.
Fri, May 6, 2011 : 7:55 p.m.
They are pissing everyone off, retirees, teachers, and now domestic partners. I see a recall that will succeeded.
Fri, May 6, 2011 : 8:59 p.m.
Sorry, I should have said State Rep. There might still be some sanity left in the Senate.
Fri, May 6, 2011 : 8:55 p.m.
If you want to recall the responsible person, you need to start a recall campaign against your Republican State Senator. If you have a Democrat State Senator, there isn't much you can do but complain to him.
Fri, May 6, 2011 : 7:48 p.m.
I just knew that Scott Walker and Whatshisname in Ohio pulling the 'I AM FOR THE WORKER!' crap yesterday meant that Snyder was busy doing something appalling.
Fri, May 6, 2011 : 7:42 p.m.
The govt has declared war on retirees, poor people, unions and now gays. I wonder if Snyder will still give his big tax break to private companies that offer benefits to gays.
Sat, May 7, 2011 : 4:22 p.m.
@alan - Unemployment insurance is not a job Alan. @AAcity12 - tax breaks help companies to be profitable which leads to more money avaiable for job. Unless you agree with alan that unemployment insurance is a job.
Fri, May 6, 2011 : 8:49 p.m.
Ah yes. The old " were trying to cut govt spending" argument. Then in the very next breath you want to give big business a $1.8 billion tax cut. Seems like an odd way to cut spending.
Fri, May 6, 2011 : 8:12 p.m.
What's your point Mike? Unemployment benefits are insurance benefits whose premiums are paid by both federal and state unemployment taxes on employers. Is that now a bad thing?
Fri, May 6, 2011 : 8:06 p.m.
The government has declared war on government spending and is trying to promote jobs. I know Nancy Pelosi said unemployment benefits help the economy but she doesn't know mcuh more than Joe Biden.
Elaine F. Owsley
Fri, May 6, 2011 : 7:41 p.m.
Is the question just for support for unmarried partners? As I read the article, it seems to say that married partners of the same sex are not the problem.
Sat, May 7, 2011 : 2:26 a.m.
Elaine seems to be the only person who actually read the article. There's no reason a person should receive partner benefits simply by virtue of living with a person.
Sat, May 7, 2011 : 12:05 a.m.
Agreed! Spousal benefits are for spouses. Why would any employer pay benefits for any "live-in" friend who is not married to the employee. That leaves the door open for all kinds of fraud and abuse and not just to all the people who are legally abiding to he law. I wish people would learn that benefits are benefits - not rights. if you qualify - you may receive them. If not, then you don't. That's life.
Fri, May 6, 2011 : 7:45 p.m.
They can't get married, that's the problem. They are second class citizens not worthy of their constitutional rights.
Some Guy in 734
Fri, May 6, 2011 : 7:35 p.m.
It remains bizarre to me that gay marriage is illegal. Seems to me that settling down and possibly raising a family is a pretty conservative value. And wouldn't those who advocate for small government want a government too small to stand in the way of that? A marriage license is twenty bucks. If a couple wants to give the state a twenty of their own free will, why would you want to stop that? Traditionally, a marriage happens at a wedding. That means catering, registries, hall rental, bands or DJs, hotel rooms for out-of-town loved ones... This is a huge chunk of good ol' fashioned demand-side economic stimulus at which our state is just turning up its figurative nose. Few states allow gay marriage, so Michigan would become a hot spot for gay couples. That's even more weddings than our home-grown couples could muster, and Michigan charges $30 for licenses to out-of-staters. That's 50% even more lucrative! I've heard it said that some o' them gay folk are flippin' awesome at their jobs. Sure would be nice to have them here in Michigan, if the government weren't actively discouraging their very presence. Oh, yeah. And I guess there's the little issue of giving all of Michigan's citizens the same rights. You know. That radical belief that the gender of the person who owns the head on the pillow next to yours should have no bearing on what rights you have. That each member of our society is just as human as another. Bleepin' hippie talk.
Mon, May 9, 2011 : 1:51 a.m.
@johhnya2 - it was the republicans who freed the slaves
Sat, May 7, 2011 : 4:48 p.m.
More lies by Mike and the right wing. We are not a center right country, we are actually an apathetic country. All polling is done with a SAMPLING of the population. In fact ELECTIONS are just a sampling of the population. In the 2010 elections, the winning ticket was NONE OF THE ABOVE. The number of people who did not vote outweighed those that did. As far as marriage equality goes, I do not give a rats ass about polls. The CONSTITUTION trumps your stupid beliefs. If the majority of the population said it was ok to own slaves, it does not make it legal in the constitution. But republicans and the right wing tell a lie often enough they actually believe it.
Sat, May 7, 2011 : 4:19 p.m.
@fubar - you can find polls to support any position if you look hard enough. Thanks for the link.
Sat, May 7, 2011 : 10:59 a.m.
Marriage is not the governments business at all. Aside from protecting the non-consenting the government has no legitimate role. This is an attempt to punish those with spiritual and religious values not endorsed by the majority of the legislature. It has been unconstitutional for the state to do so since the ratification of the 14th Amendment. Michigan's legislature voted to ratify that Amendment. They should vote to secede if they cannot live with the constitution.
Sat, May 7, 2011 : 1:09 a.m.
I wish we could edit our posts...
Sat, May 7, 2011 : 1:04 a.m.
SomeGuy Your argument also applies to people wanted to marry multiple people at once, siblings, and inatimate objects. For that matter, why can't two 14 year olds marry? Isn't their 20 bucks good? Marriage is not a right, but a privilege, like driving. As such, there are rules and standards, as well as responsibilitys. You can certainly try to change the ones you don't like, but imagine if we took away all of them.
Sat, May 7, 2011 : 12:10 a.m.
Seriously foobar, Wikipedia is your source and a survey of 1,500 people out of 300 million citizens is your evidence.
Fri, May 6, 2011 : 8:51 p.m.
@Mike: You say: "We are a center-right country and generally don't agree with gay marriage." Do you have polls that back that up? 10 seconds of google searching led to this: <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Public_opinion_of_same-sex_marriage_in_the_United_States" rel='nofollow'>http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Public_opinion_of_same-sex_marriage_in_the_United_States</a> ". A national survey by the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press, conducted 2/22/11 – 3/1/11 among 1,504 adults, finds about as many adults now favor (45%) as oppose (46%) allowing gays and lesbians to marry legally. In a Pew Research survey conducted in 2009, just 37% backed same-sex marriage while 54% were opposed. Opposition to same-sex marriage has declined by 19 percentage points since 1996, when 65% opposed gay marriage and only 27% were in favor." Looks to me like the country is evenly split and rapidly heading towards majority support for gay marriage.
Fri, May 6, 2011 : 8:24 p.m.
Hey Mike, I don't read any Christian attacks here or name calling just a really good idea to raise revenue for the State.
Fri, May 6, 2011 : 8:04 p.m.
There are states and countries that accept gay marriage; the more the merrier. We are a center-right country and generally don't agree with gay marriage. There are islamic countries that would put you to death if you are gay and yet we tolerate their religion, but if a Christian doesn't agree you attack and call names. Why? Because you can. There's trade-offs in any society you live in and there are airplanes that fly all over the world so you can try them out.
Fri, May 6, 2011 : 7:33 p.m.
I'm shocked at the mean spirited, bigoted attitudes of far too many of our current legislators. We are a nation for all with freedom of religion. That means we can all march to a different drum if we so chose. Elected government officials/representatives are not our moral guides, our religious leaders fill this role quite nicely. This is just another big, big brother government intrusion coming from the party who claims, hypocritically, to be for less government interference in peoples private lives. What a joke.
Fri, May 6, 2011 : 9:28 p.m.
Mike, targeting one kind of family as unworthy of insurance is bigotry. Bigotry often stems from fear. If you don't want homophobic as label, then maybe it's not fear but just good old fashioned lack of compassion. You choose, okay?
Fri, May 6, 2011 : 7:48 p.m.
You forgot "homophobic" before mean spirited. If you're going to use the talking points and try to intimidate people who don't agree with you then you need to label them with everything you've got so they shut up and go away.
Fri, May 6, 2011 : 7:32 p.m.
In case anyone else is wondering, Article 8, Section 1 of the state's constitution says: "Religion, morality and knowledge being necessary to good government and the happiness of mankind, schools and the means of education shall forever be encouraged." I believe it is engraved across the front of Angell Hall at U of M. Citing this Article in defense of a 5% *cut* to university funding is remarkable double-think.
Fri, May 6, 2011 : 8:56 p.m.
Definitely a non sequitur, especially on a U of M building.
Fri, May 6, 2011 : 7:49 p.m.
What does this have to do with extending benefits to same sex partners?
Fri, May 6, 2011 : 7:31 p.m.
Further evidence of Republican mean spirit and callousness. I imagine that the 5% cut in funds represents considerably more money than would be spent on gay partner benefits. Therefore, the University will likely submit to the Republican edict of hatred. Very likely highly talented gay candidates for open positions at the University will turn their attentions to more tolerant and supportive Universities. But recent actions by Republicans have already shown a crass disregard for maintaining high quality education.
Sun, May 8, 2011 : 11:38 a.m.
Why should the University cave on this when they can just raise tuition about $50/student to cover the $15 million cut? Whatever President Coleman says in public, she is a conservative republican. She will pay lipservice to gay rights but just look at the University's arguments in court against the gay law professor who was denied tenure. The University said they cannot be held legally responsible for violating their own policies against discrimination.
Sat, May 7, 2011 : 2:05 a.m.
I doubt very much that U-M will cave on this.
Some Guy in 734
Sat, May 7, 2011 : 12:15 a.m.
Can I talk my way into a slippery slope? You bet! So the county's largest employer is forced to deny benefits to the partners. Less health coverage translates into less health care, translates into an entire class of society perceived (rightly or wrongly) as having a lower standard of health. And then come the separate drinking fountains... OK, yeah I know it's a crackpot hypothesis. But baby steps is all it takes.
Fri, May 6, 2011 : 7:29 p.m.
If the Governor wants to make changes, let him start with the legislative health care paid for life after serving only six years. I can think of no company where six years would provide any form of retirement. Our new governor and his personal agenda is going to push Michigan back 50 years when it comes to rights for the citizens.
Fri, May 6, 2011 : 7:50 p.m.
That should happen in addition to what he is proposing; good point.
Fri, May 6, 2011 : 7:29 p.m.
The Michigan legislators are trying to preserve the moral values of our country. Unfortunately too many parents were too busy to teach them to so many of our children that now many of our younger generation think it's okay to have a baby first and then get married, if they do at all. Also, it's not enough to respect our gay community, now it's okay to marry a same sex partner. When parenting went out the door so did our moral values.
Sat, May 7, 2011 : 2:05 a.m.
Oops--I was logged on as my wife, Meg, when I made the comment above. Sorry about that.
Sat, May 7, 2011 : 2 a.m.
Oh, for the love of Pete. Doug: My parents taught me good moral values. I attended parochial school K-8, and earned my undergraduate degree from a Catholic university. I didn't have sex outside of marriage. I am a productive member of society. I'm a member of a thriving church and attend regularly. I'm married and we have two children who are doing beautifully--our son scored in the top 3% in all areas of the Iowa Basic Skills Test this year, and I suspect he didn't do quite as well on the reading comprehension because he was bored. The fact that I'm a lesbian negates all of that for you. That, my friend, is moral bankruptcy.
Fri, May 6, 2011 : 9:09 p.m.
I'm not entirely clear how supporting marriage for same-sex couples relates to having babies before marriage, but there's a lot about the conservative "logic" that baffles me. Also, Doug? Don't go on about "respecting our gay community" when you also accuse us of not teaching our children values. Pretending respect doesn't make it so.
Fri, May 6, 2011 : 8:20 p.m.
yeah right because being married automatically makes you a better parent - please!
Fri, May 6, 2011 : 7:38 p.m.
Moral values went out the same door as Perpetual War Profiteering and Wall St Bankster Fraud entered. But it's OK, it was all for Jesus.
Fri, May 6, 2011 : 7:38 p.m.
So are you saying that Michigan Republicans should dictate your "moral values" on all taxpayers? Wow, wrong country; wrong idea.
Fri, May 6, 2011 : 7:28 p.m.
Hello Big Government telling you what you can and cannot do. Do you Michigan people (I live here, though I've kept my residency with my home State, thank goodness) really wonder why so many people are leaving this State? No Jobs and 1950s hatred for people different than you. SHAME
Fri, May 6, 2011 : 7:51 p.m.
Yeah there's so many things they tell us we can't do like use incandescent lights without mercury in them.
Fri, May 6, 2011 : 7:22 p.m.
Maybe they should penalize legislators half of their state supported salary that propose idiotic laws?
Fri, May 6, 2011 : 7:19 p.m.
This allowed my wife who had pre-existing problems to get coverage to the lead up to our marriage. I paid a ton for the coverage, but it was a lifesaver.
Fri, May 6, 2011 : 7:24 p.m.
These TeaPublicans are good Christian folk doing God's work. As Steve says they are the stunt men!
Steve in MI
Fri, May 6, 2011 : 7:09 p.m.
Another gay-bashing stunt by the Michigan Republican Party, pandering to the worst elements of their base. An attack on education, unions, and gays all in one package actually may make this a trifecta of Republican policy, and a reminder why I never want to live in a state that is governed by Republicans. To quote Minnesota state Representative Steve Simon, arguing (unsuccessfully) against Republican efforts to put a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage on the 2012 ballot: "How many more gay people does God have to create before we ask ourselves whether God actually wants them around?"
Fri, May 6, 2011 : 8:54 p.m.
You forgot to mention denying health care. Another thing republicans are notorious for.
Fri, May 6, 2011 : 7:52 p.m.
Gay bashing; good point.
Fri, May 6, 2011 : 6:44 p.m.
Inside the Hall, I didn't know that legislators smoked pipes but okay. Most workers, public and private, pay for at least part of their own health care coverage.........................................................................................but Michigan taxpayers shell out about $5 million a year to pay for retired state legislators' health benefits, according to state officials. They retire after serving only SIX years. Five million dollars per year and the Republican legislator holding up a bill to cut that pension and life time health care package says he has other priorities. Now who needs as have and a haircut? Please, you really are proud of Republicans for cutting education instead of their own lifetime paid pension, health care, including for their entire family for LIFE? Priorities. Gotta love Republicans.
Sat, May 7, 2011 : 4:36 p.m.
Cash, You've gone and done that silly thing that republicans can not handle. You gave them facts. Always remember, republicans believe if they say something often enough it becomes fact. They are better marketers. They use terms like death tax , instead of estate tax. They call it a tax cut, when it is a tax shift. They call it family values, when it is throwing family members off insurance plans.
Sat, May 7, 2011 : 12:25 a.m.
Mike, haven't heard your reply. Do you understand that it IS a Republican issue, not a Democratic one?
Fri, May 6, 2011 : 10:04 p.m.
Mike, Be informed: Rep. Dian Slavens (D 21st district-Canton) is the sponsor of a bill to kill the health care perk. "And it's a perk that, I mean, no one, especially in this day and age deserves. It's ridiculous," she says. Slavens is Assistant Democratic Floor Leader now, but has, for the second time in her two terms, tried to eliminate the free health care benefit for herself and her colleagues. But for three months, Slavens' bill has been held up in the Oversight, Reform and Ethics committee. It's Rochester Republican Tom McMillin's committee. McMillin admits bills don't take beyond a week or two to reach the house floor. "Typically, I will have a bill and get both sides in, have a hearing and then try to pass it out the following week." McMillin said. So why is that not happening when it comes to a bill that cuts his benefits and that of his colleagues? His response: "I mean. Well, for now, there are obviously various priorities." <a href="http://www.wxyz.com/dpp/news/local_news/investigations/action-news-investigators-examines-lifetime-health-care-coverage-for-lawmakers" rel='nofollow'>http://www.wxyz.com/dpp/news/local_news/investigations/action-news-investigators-examines-lifetime-health-care-coverage-for-lawmakers</a>
Fri, May 6, 2011 : 9:57 p.m.
Mike, The Democrats have sent the bill to CUT the benefits to this Republican's committee and HE won't move it. Be informed. Go to WXYZ-tv online to see Bill Proctor's story.
Fri, May 6, 2011 : 9:07 p.m.
Hey Mike, maybe because the Dems haven't been in charge since, oh forever! Don't let the truth get in your way!
Fri, May 6, 2011 : 7:56 p.m.
Your comments do not include democrat legislators; I haven't heard one of them offer to give up their insurance. Why is this a republican thing? They should all give it up to help out with our budget problems. Most taxpayers are against it so what he's basically proposing is not to outlaw it but to say that if it is that important then you can fund more of it since most taxpayers are against it. Instead you bash republicans? You should be bashing all taxpayers. Your entitled to your opinion and feel you should attack and punish those who don't agree with yours. What a good example of an "accepting" liberal vs. a close minded republican.
Fri, May 6, 2011 : 6:39 p.m.
How does this make college unaffordable? The attack on the middle class comes from the public sector and in this case the pipe smoking academic elites who are fleeceing the state with inflated salaries and benefit packages. Time for them to get a shave and a haircut!
Sat, May 7, 2011 : 7:34 p.m.
Let me see…. If I call an individual poster a thief, my comment will be deleted as a personal attack. But when a person comments by categorically denouncing a group of people as thieves ("fleecers"), AnnArbor.com lets that pass. Now what is worse? Allowing one person to impugn the integrity (or intelligence, or something else) of one other person? Or allowing one person to impugn the integrity (or something else) of a whole group of people?
Fri, May 6, 2011 : 7:57 p.m.
I don't know why people keep posting these things. Where are these supposedly inflated salaries and benefits? An assistant professor in mathematics at UM gets $54,000 with a PhD and 10 years of higher education. Pension plans are defined contribution, not defined benefit. The university contributes $402/mo for health care for a single person and $895/mo for a family. You want more, you pay. My wife's private sector employer gets fleeced by BCBS for over $1,400/mo for the family with worse coverage. Please check facts before you propagate senseless comments without any knowledge of reality.