Michigan legislature moves to outlaw domestic partner benefits in violation of the State Constitution… Will Snyder veto?

State Representative Jeff Irwin sent out the following note earlier this afternoon.

House Republicans vote to ban domestic partner benefits: Moments ago, the House passed HB 4770 which – if signed by Governor Snyder – will make it illegal for governments, schools and universities to offer domestic partner benefits. If signed, HB 4770 will immediately revoke benefits from hundreds of Michigan families and their children. In addition to the intolerance exhibited by my House Republican colleagues, this immediate revocation of health care gives these families no time to plan an orderly transition to avoid a gap in coverage. The good news is that the bill is obviously unconsitutional with respect to universities and local government and there will likely be a long court battle which may result in overturning the law. The bad news is that this court battle is likely to cost us all more than providing the benefits.

Fortunately, there’s reason to believe that Governor Snyder will stand up to the old-school homophobes within his party, and do the right thing. At least, he’s given indications in the past that he might not be afraid to do so. The following clip comes from a post I wrote back in May of this year entitled, “Snyder Stops Party from Punishing Public Universities Offering Benefits to Domestic Partners“:

…In other promising news, it’s being reported by the Gongwer News Service that Snyder’s legal counsel has informed the Senate and House leaders that proposed bills to financially penalize universities for pursuing embryonic stem cell research and offering benefits to the unmarried partners of employees are “unconstitutional and unenforceable”…

Here, in case any of you would like to either write or call Governor Snyder, and encourage him to do the right thing, is his contact information.

Governor Rick Snyder
P.O. Box 30013
Lansing, Michigan 48909
PHONE: (517) 373-3400
PHONE: (517) 335-7858 – Constituent Services
FAX:(517) 335-6863
E-MAIL: Rick.Snyder@michigan.gov

I know we’ve discussed this before, but this isn’t just a question of civil rights. It’s also a question of economics. Michigan, as it attempts to pull itself out of depression, cannot afford to be so grotesquely bigoted. As you’ll recall, we are one of only two states in the nation that lost population last year. We are in no position to be telling gay Michiganders that we don’t want them here. This would be particularly harmful to our institutions of higher learning, that would find it increasingly difficult to attract and retain the nation’s top faculty and researchers. (It’s hard enough to convince people to move to Michigan.) I’d like to think that Snyder would veto this on moral grounds alone, but, even if he doesn’t care about things like equality, I’ve got to think that the economic argument would resonate with him. As we’ve heard again and again on this site, people will leave if this is allowed to become law, and we cannot allow this to happen.

[Other articles on this subject can be found at the Grand Rapids Institute for Information Democracy and the Huffington Post.]

This entry was posted in Civil Liberties, Michigan, Politics, Rants, Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Post a comment or leave a trackback: Trackback URL.


  1. Posted December 8, 2011 at 11:33 pm | Permalink

    I didn’t mention it in the post, but there seems to be some back and forth between the House and Senate as to whether or not universities will be exempted from this legislation. Here, with more on that, is a clip from the Huffington Post piece that I linked to above.

    Michigan’s House approved the revised H.B. 4770, but said the Senate amendment exempting public colleges and universities from the domestic partner benefits ban was irrelevant. House Republicans said their version of the bills defined “public employees” through the Public Employees Relations Act, which includes employees of universities, MIRS reported.

    Since Michigan’s constitution allows for public colleges and universities to have autonomy and policy-making power, a challenge to the bill, if signed, would be likely. State Sen. Mark Jansen had tried to include language exempting university employees in an attempt to bolster the bill against a constitutional challenge…

  2. Edward
    Posted December 9, 2011 at 8:10 am | Permalink

    A few days ago, I heard Snyder being interviewed about anti-bullying legislation. During the interview, he said that he knew what it was like to be bullyed, having been picked on all the way from grade school through college. Here’s hoping he keeps that in mind when this legislation crosses his desk.

  3. Gene
    Posted December 9, 2011 at 8:57 am | Permalink

    i think it’s 50/50 he signs it – i’d be surprised if he goes against party.

  4. Eel
    Posted December 9, 2011 at 9:56 am | Permalink

    If they can carve out universities, as the Senate is suggesting, it’ll be easier for Snyder to go along with it.

  5. Meta
    Posted December 9, 2011 at 12:15 pm | Permalink

    Gov. Snyder says he’ll sign domestic partner benefits ban, but only if university employees are not included

    Snyder spokeswoman Sara Wurfel said the governor’s work and understanding on the bill is that public university employees would not not included – hinting at a veto if a review proves otherwise.

    “While Gov. Snyder has been focused on efforts that will most help turn around Michigan’s economy and this hadn’t been on his agenda, his intent will be to sign the bill pending a final review (like every piece of legislation that comes to his desk) that ensures Constitutionality and university autonomy,” she said.


  6. Mr. X
    Posted December 9, 2011 at 12:34 pm | Permalink

    I hope the House Republicans demand that university employees be included in this horrible piece of legislation. I don’t want to let Snyder off the hook that easily. U-M is the problem here. He’s got friends who are among the leaders at U-M, and it’ll be hard for him to face them when he signs it. Good. I want to see what he’s made of. I don’t want the exception for the state’s universities. I don’t want to give him an easy out, which is what will happen if universities are excluded. 90% of the uproar will fade away. As long at they’re taken care of, the academics won’t come out against this. No one cares about the gay file clerk in some Lansing office building whose life partner has cancer.

  7. anonymous
    Posted December 9, 2011 at 1:29 pm | Permalink

    If Snyder is going to sign it, he’ll likely do it today. Bad shit like this always gets signed Friday afternoons. Of course, they could still be negotiating between the House and Senate as to whether universities will be included. Or the state’s lawyers could be looking into the constitutionality of it. It seems to me, however, that they’re comfortable with it, so long as the universities are left out.

  8. Rebate
    Posted December 9, 2011 at 1:54 pm | Permalink

    This bill will get signed into law and this is great news.

  9. Rebate
    Posted December 9, 2011 at 2:06 pm | Permalink

    One word for the passage on this very great bill and if you don’t like it: “Leave” and go live in Vermont then. I do not want my tax dollars to pay for your benefits. Pay for your own.

  10. Rebate
    Posted December 9, 2011 at 2:27 pm | Permalink

    Here they are folks, Socialists, some will admit it and some will deny and hide:


  11. Interrobang
    Posted December 11, 2011 at 12:16 pm | Permalink

    You say “socialist” like it’s a *bad* thing…

  12. Melissa
    Posted December 11, 2011 at 4:58 pm | Permalink

    You are such an ignorant homophobe. Do you think I like giving the heteros my tax dollars while I sit by and watch my partner die of cancer? I pay for your insurance why shouldn’t you pay for mine?

  13. K2
    Posted December 11, 2011 at 8:51 pm | Permalink

    I’m not sure what your point is, Rebate. Are you saying that only Socialists are taking the threat of global warming seriously? Are you recruiting for the Socialist party? And why is this relevant in a thread about domestic partner benefits being cut in Michigan?

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