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Bill to destroy partner health care benefits heads to Snyder’s desk

December 8, 2011

Yesterday, Equality Michigan sent out a Media Release announcing the Michigan Senate passed House Bills 4770 and 4771 by a vote of 27-9. One Democrat (Sen. Tupac Hunter) joined all 26 Republicans to vote in favor of the measures.

“The bills would eliminate health care benefits for unmarried partners of public employees. HB 4770 originally prohibited any government entity in the state from providing such benefits and HB 4771 prohibits unions from including them in collective bargaining agreements. In a last minute attempt to silence opposition, Senate Republicans passed an amendment that exempts public universities from the legislation.

Anti-gay Republicans Representative Dave Agema (sponsor of the bills) and Attorney General Bill Schuette have been trying to strip away health care benefits for gay and lesbian couples since February of this year.

Equality Michigan Director of Policy Emily Dievendorf added this statement in the Media Release:

This is yet another step in the wrong direction for Michigan. The only motivation for these bills it to make Michigan a more hostile state for gay and lesbian couples. We call on Governor Snyder to do what’s in the best interest of our state and immediately veto these measures.”

“Tens of thousands of public and private employees in our state have access to health care benefits for unmarried partners. Policies that provide such benefits are used throughout the country to treat employees fairly and retain talented workers. Leaders from Fortune 500 companies, public school districts, and municipal governments across the country know that their workforces are stronger when employees are able to take care of their families.”

“Governor Snyder prides himself on being a pragmatic moderate. We can assume that, like all of us, he has friends he would do real harm to by approving anti-equality initiatives. He also has a personal investment in strengthening Michigan’s business climate. In order to promote both fairness and economic growth in our state, he must allow local governments to offer benefits that help recruit and retain top talent.”

“The State Civil Service Commission has confirmed that costs for other ‘eligible individual benefit programs’ are minuscule, so it’s clear that these bills have moved through the legislature simply because of malice toward gay and lesbian families.”

You can read the language of HB 4770 and HB 4771 to determine how these bills, if adopted by Governor Snyder, will be a defeat for equality in Michigan.

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