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Mich. amendment trumps same-sex benefits: Court


LANSING, Mich.--Michigan's 2004 marriage amendment prohibits public employers in the state from offering health benefits to employees' same-sex domestic partners, the Michigan Court of Appeals says.

In a unanimous opinion issued Thursday in National Pride at Work Inc. vs. Governor of Michigan and City of Kalamazoo, a three-judge panel held that public employer plans that recognize domestic partnership agreements for the purpose of providing benefits "run directly afoul of the plain language of the amendment."

The amendment approved by voters in November 2004 states that the "union of one man and one woman in marriage shall be the only agreement recognized as a marriage or similar union for any purpose."

"The vote to adopt the marriage amendment charted the policy direction for Michigan," says the ruling, which affects several public employers, including state universities and various city and county governments that had extended health care benefits to employees' same sex domestic partners.

"Our decision only interprets the amendment and applies it as interpreted to this particular situation presented in this case," says the ruling, which reverses a lower court's decision.