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Kalamazoo cuts same-sex benefits


KALAMAZOO, Mich.--The city of Kalamazoo, Mich., is discontinuing same-sex health benefits in the wake of a 2004 voter-approved state constitutional amendment banning gay marriage.

City Manager Kenneth Collard decided to eliminate the benefits after the Michigan Supreme Court permitted the ban to take effect while it reviewed a case filed by the American Civil Liberties Union of Michigan asserting that the amendment did not intend to eliminate same-sex benefits.

The city doesn't have the authority to ignore the Michigan constitution pending review, said Jerome Post, Kalamazoo's assistant director of human resources.

The benefit cut will take effect June 30 for four nonunion employees who had enrolled their same-sex partners in the city's health plan, he said. Although the benefits were included in the collective bargaining agreements for the city's union employees, none of them had enrolled and would therefore not be affected, he added.

Kalamazoo employees with same-sex partners have been eligible to enroll their partners in the city's health benefit program since 2000, according to Mr. Post.