Update: Universities in MI finding ways to keep same sex partner benefits despite SC ruling

Just to add to what Jessica posted two days ago about the Michigan Supreme Court decision, the University of Michigan is trying to find ways around the decision.

After a lower court ruled that the gay marriage ban applies to benefits, some universities switched their benefits programs so that they were available not to domestic partners but to “other eligible individuals,� a category that would include many gay partners, but would also include others who live with but are not legally related to university employees. For example, the University of Michigan’s criteria include joint residence for at least six months, some joint financial ties such as checking accounts, and no legal relationship or marriage between the individuals involved.
After the Supreme Court decision Wednesday, the university immediately asserted that its new benefits are not domestic partner benefits and are thus not covered by the ruling. Further, the university said it had eliminated domestic partner benefits after the lower court’s decision. “The university believes all current benefit offerings are in full compliance with Michigan law. The university cares deeply about recruitment, retention, and maintaining a healthy workforce and we design our benefits with these principles in mind,� the statement said.

This is why these kind of referendums (like the 2004 ballot measure that created the MI law) are so insidious. I wonder how many of the people who voted against gay marriage would agree that same sex couples should be denied access to each other’s health care.
Thanks to Rose for the link

and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink. Both comments and trackbacks are currently closed.

25 Comments

  1. Staar84
    Posted May 9, 2008 at 5:04 pm | Permalink

    Good for the university. I’m glad to see they won’t let intolerance stand in the way of what’s right.

  2. Unicron_The_Vagina
    Posted May 9, 2008 at 5:11 pm | Permalink

    It makes me so happy to see big, visible institutions insist on doing the right thing, even when it means taking a risk.

  3. avast2006
    Posted May 9, 2008 at 5:24 pm | Permalink

    “I wonder how many of the people who voted against gay marriage would agree that same sex couples should be denied access to each other’s health care.”
    More of them than one might care to think.
    Some of them are convinced that all homosexuals are going to die of AIDS, and that it will just be a huge drain on our health care system. Never mind that monogamy is the best way to reduce AIDS.
    Others just want to stand on the necks of gays because, well, it’s the Godly thang t’ dew. Sez so, raht they in the Babble.

  4. Chelsa
    Posted May 9, 2008 at 5:33 pm | Permalink

    Man, that is such a great story. I hope more institutions will follow that example. Screw legislation: step around it.

  5. Chelsa
    Posted May 9, 2008 at 5:33 pm | Permalink

    Man, that is such a great story. I hope more institutions will follow that example. Screw unfair legislation: step around it.

  6. tprincess
    Posted May 9, 2008 at 7:53 pm | Permalink

    Never mind that monogamy is the best way to reduce AIDS.
    You’re assuming they equate marriage and monogamy. So many of these people are the same ones who get caught in a motel being whipped by a hooker. Why would they think the gays were any more faithful than they are?
    Then there are the ones who ARE faithful, who presumably think being gay means being unable to be monogamous.

  7. allegra
    Posted May 9, 2008 at 8:27 pm | Permalink

    I wonder how many of the people who voted against gay marriage would agree that same sex couples should be denied access to each other’s health care.
    Yeah, great question. Then again, these are probably the same people who bitch and whine about “welfare queens” and how labor unions, not greedy conglomerate corporations, are the ones destroying the country. And the same ones who refuse to fund children’s health and other programs necessary for struggling mothers/families to raise all the children that anti-choicers think they’re supposed to have.
    Anyway, serious applause for U of Mich. The anti-gay hate and civil rights denials in all of this is getting just blatantly ridiculous.

  8. Nightingale
    Posted May 9, 2008 at 8:49 pm | Permalink

    When this law was being sold in Michigan, the supporters went to great lengths to say that it would not affect domestic partnership benefits – many people believed their lie when they voted for it.

  9. astraevirgo
    Posted May 9, 2008 at 9:01 pm | Permalink

    http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2007/06/15/benefits
    According to that same website, Michigan State University is doing the same thing. So, that’s two out of the three major research universities in the State — so Wayne State is probably in on it too. They usually pursue similar policies, at least when it comes to benefits.
    *Michigan State Graduate*

  10. Adele
    Posted May 9, 2008 at 9:03 pm | Permalink

    Other universities have definitely been following suite here. Michigan State University is extending coverage to “other eligible individuals” as well in a program that they started last July. They require having lived together for at least 18 months.
    http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2007/06/15/benefits
    Sorry, I had to make sure that my alma mater is on top of things as well and decided to share my findings.

  11. astraevirgo
    Posted May 9, 2008 at 9:08 pm | Permalink

    Oh, ps — that article I just linked to says something about whether people wanted to limit benefits as well. Human Rights Campaign says generally, people aren’t opposed to benefits.
    And I was a classmate of the horrible, horrible Kyle Bristow who is quoted in that article.

  12. astraevirgo
    Posted May 9, 2008 at 9:10 pm | Permalink

    Oh, ps — that article I just linked to says something about whether people wanted to limit benefits as well. Human Rights Campaign says generally, people aren’t opposed to benefits.
    And I was a classmate of the horrible, horrible Kyle Bristow who is quoted in that article.
    PPS — Go Green, Go White. …and we did the “other eligible person” benefit first.

  13. Jessica F.
    Posted May 9, 2008 at 9:37 pm | Permalink

    Most of the “active homophobes” (meaning people who are likely to campaign and speak out against gay marriage as opposed to people who are quietly uncomfortable but educatable) I’ve met would be against any sort of partner benefit. The evil gays don’t deserve any rights, and we shouldn’t be promoting their disgusting choices. These are the same people who think birth control access increases teen sex.
    It sucks that employers have to use brainpower to get around these laws, but since I’m for the ability of an employee to share health benefits with whomever they wish, I think it’s a good policy. Just not a good legal envirionment.

  14. kirjava
    Posted May 10, 2008 at 1:53 am | Permalink

    I spent the better part of today silently protesting a man thumping a bible and spewing bilious hate speech directed mostly at us LGBTQ-identified folk, so it is really great to hear about an institution subverting this ridiculous law instead of welcoming it. Go Michigan schools!

  15. werechick
    Posted May 10, 2008 at 3:54 am | Permalink

    Michigan student here.
    I’m glad they did what they did, and as a GLBT student leader-ish person, they keep telling me about how supportive they are (blah, blah, blah), so I’m glad they followed through on it.
    But honestly, I can’t feel happy about this. Sure, fantastic, they found a loophole. But even the fact they needed to find a loophole makes my goddamn blood boil.
    What century is this when you need to create a codeword for “being a decent human being and understanding that equal work deserves equal pay?”
    Giving a high five to the University system seems to me like giving out diplomas in the fine art of breathing. Congratulations, you’re not completely useless.
    I honestly hate living in a country where my rights to equal protection under the law are subjected to the theological opinions of slack jawed yokels.
    I can’t honestly be anything other than angry right now.

  16. hallwell
    Posted May 10, 2008 at 2:48 pm | Permalink

    I’m from Michigan, my whole family still lives there. I think this has a lot do with Michigan’s awful ecomony (worst in the nation). I have relatives that think allowing gay people access to each other’s social security benefits is like robbing the pool or some crazy asinine logic. I think undereducated people serioulsy want jobs so badly they’ll stop at nothing to get them, including making the job pool smaller by encouraging gltbq folks to move elsewhere…
    sigh, the layers of problems there is overwhelming.

  17. weirdmusic657
    Posted May 10, 2008 at 5:58 pm | Permalink

    What really bugs me is that EVERY TIME one of these anti gay marriage laws is being debated we’re assured by “experts” (at right-wing think tanks) that these laws won’t change civil union or domestic partner benefits.
    Of course, they have no idea how courts will interpret the law. There’s no way they can guarantee one interpretation over another when, to do what they want it to do, the law MUST be written in fairly vague language.
    Ugh!

  18. dee
    Posted May 10, 2008 at 10:26 pm | Permalink

    Hopefully, Michigan Tech will also follow suite.

  19. dee
    Posted May 10, 2008 at 10:28 pm | Permalink

    Hopefully, Michigan Tech will also follow suite.

  20. Aspasia
    Posted May 11, 2008 at 8:32 am | Permalink

    Michigan State University is doing this as well. They just had “other eligible individuals” benefits written into the new contract for graduate employees.

  21. EG
    Posted May 11, 2008 at 9:54 am | Permalink

    It makes me so happy to see big, visible institutions insist on doing the right thing, even when it means taking a risk.
    Honestly, UMich is a top school, which means that they’re competing for top faculty with the Ivies and Berkeley. If they didn’t do this, they’d probably be taking a bigger risk in that they’d start to bleed faculty.

  22. realityfighter
    Posted May 11, 2008 at 11:19 am | Permalink

    Honestly, UMich is a top school, which means that they’re competing for top faculty with the Ivies and Berkeley. If they didn’t do this, they’d probably be taking a bigger risk in that they’d start to bleed faculty.
    I don’t know if this is true or not, but it bugs me to see an act of goodness and generosity reduced to free market economics.

  23. EG
    Posted May 11, 2008 at 11:30 am | Permalink

    Why can’t it be both? Wouldn’t it be nice if for once the free market didn’t work to screw people over?
    And it’s true.

  24. Alice
    Posted May 11, 2008 at 12:13 pm | Permalink

    realityfighter: I don’t know if this is true or not, but it bugs me to see an act of goodness and generosity reduced to free market economics.
    You’re giving undue favor to the interpretation you happened to have heard first. Never attribute to altruism what can be adequately explained by rational self-interest.

  25. Posted May 12, 2008 at 10:56 am | Permalink

    KUDOS!

Feministing In Your Inbox

Sign up for our Newsletter to stay in touch with Feministing
and receive regular updates and exclusive content.

187 queries. 1.717 seconds