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22 March 2005
WLNS news clip and article on ACLU suit
ACLU Files Same-Sex Benefits Lawsuit

March 22, 2005, 06:32 AM

The Michigan ACLU files a lawsuit, saying the State has no legal right to cut domestic partner benefits to same-sex couples. The lawsuit comes 5 days after Michigan's attorney general declared that same-sex couples can't receive benefits in future public contracts.

That decision the result of growing uncertainty over the meaning of last November's proposal 2. Proposal 2 stated that marriage was the union of 1 man and 1 woman, a nd the language clearly stated that unions similar to marriage would also be banned. Supporters of prop 2 say a domestic partnership and the benefits associated with that partnershipis equivalent to marriage, b ut opponents filed their lawsuit, saying that's not what they were told last November.

Chris Swope, Lansing ACLU board member: "A law can't tell you whom to love.

"For months, opponents of proposal 2 have simply voiced their displeasure. Now that disapproval has been put down in writing.

Chris Swope: "I would call it deceitful."

Chris Swope sits on Lansing's ACLU board. He says prop 2 supporters were lied to.

Chris Swope: "They said it would not effect benefits, they said this isn't going to take benefits away from the people."

But in Swope's mind benefits have been taken away. Still, supporters of prop 2 disagree. T hey say the voters knew what they were getting into when they stepped into the ballot box, and they say the 60% mandate in favor of prop 2 speaks for itself.

Brad Snavely, Exec. Dir. Michigan Family Forum: "T hey knew what they were voting on. They voted on marriage and all the other unions simulating marriage, and said they should not be recognized.”

But no matter the intention of voters, the ACLU says the result is a loss of benefits.

Chris Swope: "If domestic partnership benefits are taken away, children will lose health insurance."

That's one area where the ACLU says prop 2 supporters misinformed voters. In a November forum, they said no child is in danger of losing benefits. The ACLU says that's a broken promise.

Chris Swope: "How anyone can say that's pro family is just beyond me."

But the Michigan Family Forum points out no existing benefits for children will be cut.

Brad Snavely: "Those people would continue to have benefits until such time as they have a new contract."

But when new contracts do come, unless the courts intervene to change the current constitutional amendment, Swope believes same-sex couples will be hurt down the road.

Chris Swope: "It's not taking them right away, but as soon as the contract is up, the benefits can't be renewed."

The lawsuit names Jennifer Granholm as a defendant. Her office says, "the governor continues to support domestic partnership benefits. We are pleased to see it back in the courts where it needs to be."

They say they were surprised by Attorney General Cox's decision last week. We did try to reach the attorney general, but we did not hear back from his office.

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