Thursday, January 12, 2012

ACLU Sues Michigan Over Anti-Gay DP Benefits Law

Previously MadProfessah had blogged about a new discriminatory law signed into effect by Republican Governor Rick Snyder which would ban public employees (at the state, county, or city level) from receiving benefits based on domestic partner status. Now comes word that the American Civil Liberties Union is suing the Governor and the state of Michigan to strike down the law in court.

The case is known as Bassett v. Snyder:
The lawsuit charges that the new law discriminates by categorically denying domestic partners access to benefits and violates the constitutional right to equal protection by forcing gay and lesbian employees in committed relationships to carry the financial hardship and anxiety of being uninsured, while allowing heterosexual couples to marry and receive family health protections. In addition, the law only bars domestic partners from receiving health care coverage, while allowing government employers to offer benefits to all other family members, including parents, siblings, uncles and cousins.
“It’s unconstitutional for the state of Michigan to deprive a small number of workers the means to take care of their loved ones when other similarly situated workers do have access to family coverage,” said Amanda C. Goad, staff attorney for the ACLU LGBT Project. “In an economic downturn, the state should be passing laws to make it easier for families to take care of each other, not to take protections away.”
Proponents point to the “high cost” of domestic partner health care coverage as the motivating force to enact such a law. However, an analysis of programs across the state proves these numbers to be wildly inaccurate. In fact, studies show such coverage, in addition to attracting and retaining the best employees, costs well under one percent of the health care budget of public employers who voluntarily provide these benefits. In addition, unlike married couples, domestic partners must pay taxes to the state on their health insurance benefits – revenue the state would lose under the new law.
As Ari Ezra Waldman over at TowleRoad comments, this case is really about more than just domestic partnership benefits, it's about whether the state can discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation without a legitimate governmental purpose or compelling justification.

The answer is, of course, "heck no!"

No comments:


Blog Widget by LinkWithin