By Michelle Garcia
Originally published on Advocate.com January 06 2012 4:19 PM ET
The American Civil Liberties Union is challenging a law that prohibits many Michigan public agencies from providing health insurance to employees' domestic partners.
Four public employees and their partners have teamed up with the ACLU to file the federal lawsuit. Because of the new law, the registered domestic partners of public workers would lose health insurance.
"This is not about politics or ideology for us," Peter Ways, an Ann Arbor teacher and plaintiff in the suit, said in a statement. "This is about real families who are facing the real consequences of discriminatory laws. Just like our colleagues whose families will continue to receive health insurance, we want to care for our families."
Kary L. Moss, the executive director of the ACLU of Michigan, says the legislation was introduced as a cost-cutting measure, but it was really just intended to disenfranchise LGBT families. According to the organization, the promise of reducing state expenses is inaccurate, because the cost of covering workers' domestic partners is less than 1% of the statewide health care budget. The state would also lose revenue because domestic partners were previously forced to pay taxes on their health insurance benefits.
ACLU staff attorney Amanda C. Goad said the law is especially harsh during an economic downturn, when the state should be helping families save money.
"It's unconstitutional for the state of Michigan to deprive a small number of workers the means to take care of their loved ones when other similarly situated workers do have access to family coverage," she said in a statement Thursday.