Michigan is moving ahead on a proposal to extend health care benefits to same-sex partners of state employees after a judge ruled the plan doesn’t violate a voter-approved marriage amendment.
Gov. Jennifer Granholm made the announcement Tuesday after Ingham County Judge Joyce Dragunchuk’s decision, the first judicial interpretation of the 2004 amendment, which defines marriage as only between one man and one woman.
Dragunchuk – in agreement with interest groups, unions and universities – ruled benefits provided to same-sex partners of public employees do not constitute recognition of a marriage or a marriage-like relationship, the Detroit Free Press reported.
Gary Glenn, president of the American Family Association of Michigan, said the ruling didn’t surprise him because two homosexual activist groups backed the judge’s election.
“Judge Dragunchuk was strongly endorsed by homosexual activists,” said Glenn, coauthor of the amendment.
Glenn and other opponents of benefits for same-sex partners insist the amendment was intended to restrict recognition of marriage or marriage-like arrangements to opposite-sex couples.
The amendment was approved by Michigan voters in November, 59 percent to 41 percent.
An appeal of Tuesday’s decision is expected.
The Detroit paper said a dozen public universities and about the same number of other agencies in Michigan offer benefits to same-sex couples.
Fewer than 1 percent of employees would apply for the benefits, proponents estimate.
Twenty-one same-sex couples named in the lawsuit, represented by the American Civil Liberties Union of Michigan, celebrated the decision.
“We’re very happy about it,” Kary Moss, executive director of ACLU Michigan, told the Free Press.