Michigan Governor Rick Snyder on
Thursday signed a bill that bans public employers from providing
benefits to the spouses of gay employees.
The bill prohibits public employers
from extending benefits to the partners of unmarried public employees
in a state where gay and lesbian couples cannot legally marry, gay
Source reported. The legislation also impacts unmarried
straight couples in a domestic partnership.
Several institutions of higher learning
in the state, including the University of Michigan, had urged Snyder
not to sign the bill.
An analysis by the House concluded that
the legislation would not exclude universities, but a Senate analysis
arrived at the opposite conclusion.
Snyder said in a statement that he
believed universities would not be impacted by the legislation.
“In a signing letter to the
legislature, Snyder reiterated the fact that higher education
institutions would not be included in H.B. 4770 as the constitutional
autonomy of universities has been reviewed and affirmed many times by
the courts since the adoption of the 1963 Michigan Constitution.
Members of classified state civil service are also not covered by the
terms of H.B. 4770 as the constitution gives the Michigan Civil
Service Commission responsibility for setting rates of compensation
and regulating all conditions of employment in the classified
Gay rights and progressive groups
called Snyder's decision “cruel.”
“The decision to take health care
benefits away from families just in time for the holidays is
mean-spirited and cruel,” said Kary Moss, executive director of the
Michigan chapter of the ACLU. “The bill serves no other purpose
than to single out a small minority of people and deprive them of
critical protections as guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution.”
Moss added that her group would
challenge the law in court.
Snyder “has put hardworking gay and
lesbian couples and their children in harm's way by eliminating
important health care coverage,” said Emily Dievendorf, policy
director for Equality Michigan, the state's largest gay rights
advocate. “This law will only serve to hurt Michigan.”