Healthcare Inequality Strikes Again

Today, the Michigan Supreme Court ruled that same-sex partners could not get health benefits in government or public universities because of state’s 2004 constitutional amendment prohibiting gay marriage.

This decision is important to the Commonwealth of Kentucky’s LGBT population because conservative groups and lawmakers in Kentucky have been closely monitoring the Michigan Supreme Court case.

The Michigan Supreme Court’s 5-2 decision affirms a Michigan Court of Appeals ruling. Up to 20 public universities, community colleges, school districts and city governments in Michigan have benefits policies covering at least 375 gay couples. Some of the plans began as far back as the early 1990s.

After the appeals court ruled in February 2007, universities and local governments rewrote their policies to try to comply with the gay marriage ban (similar to what the University of Kentucky and the University of Louisville did after the Kentucky Attorney General issued a legal opinion on this issue in 2007).

Former Kentucky Attorney General Greg Stumbo referenced the Michigan court case, in addition to the Michigan Attorney’s General opinion in his 2007 legal opinion.

Michigan’s anti-gay law, which passed 59 percent to 41 percent, says the union between a man and woman is the only agreement recognized as a marriage "or similar union for any purpose."

Many have suggested the Family Foundation of Kentucky decided not to peruse their threat to sue the University of Kentucky and Louisville to stop domestic-partner benefits until the Michigan Supreme Court issued their ruling.

Kentucky and Michigan’s 2004 constitutional amendments against gay marriage are nearly identical, as are their policies toward local governments and public universities.

We will keep you advised of new developments.

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