Thursday, September 29, 2005

Good News in Michigan

This has no impact on my life, seeing as I have no plans to live in Michigan, but it still made me happy to hear:
A judge in Michigan ruled on Tuesday that the state ban on same-sex marriage does not infringe on domestic partner rights.
If you're not familiar with what happened in Michigan, here's a quick recap. Last November, Michigan passed a constitutional amendment defining marriage as between a man and a woman. The specific text of the amendment was this:
To secure and preserve the benefits of marriage for our society and for future generations of children, the union of one man and one woman in marriage shall be the only agreement recognized as marriage or similar union for any purpose.
During the campaign for this amendment, the people proposing it insisted that they had no intention of taking away anyone's benefits. They were proved to be liars less than a month after the election when a state representative began pushing a resolution to block domestic partner benefits for state and city employees. I blogged about my outrage here.

At any rate, the good news is that the issue ended up in front of a judge, who ruled that the vague wording of the amendment did not bar domestic partnership benefits at all. From this article:
In the opinion, Ingham County Circuit Court Judge Joyce Draganchuk makes it clear that the constitutional amendment does not impact domestic partner benefits.

“Health care benefits are not among the statutory rights or benefits of marriage. An individual does not receive health care benefits for his or her spouse as a matter of legal right upon getting married,” wrote Judge Draganchuk. “Health care benefits for a spouse are benefits of employment, not benefits of marriage.”
Well, duh. Employers offer all sorts of benefits to their employees for all sorts of reasons. Some companies might offer DP benefits out of a sense of fairness, recognizing that gay employees also have families that matter to them, but that doesn't change the fact that the benefits are really just compensation, just like salary and any number of other "fringe" benefits. I recently learned that my employer will provide "pet insurance" next year. Does this mean they have somehow "elevated" my pets to the same level as children or spouses?

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