(It will be interesting to see if there will be an employee/faculty drain on the colleges/universities of states that forbid these benefits to the colleges/universities of states that do allow it. I know that in California's higher education system they have the very fair system in which anyone can put their partner--no matter the sex and they do not have to be legally married--on their health care benefits. Courtesy of Virginia Blum.)
Universities Cannot Provide Benefits to Employees' Same-Sex Partners, Michigan Court of Appeals Rules
By ERIN STROUT
Chronicle of Higher Education
Michigan's public universities and other state-government agencies cannot provide health-care or other benefits to same-sex partners of their employees, the Michigan Court of Appeals has ruled.
In an opinion released on Thursday, the court said that such benefits violate an amendment to Michigan's Constitution that bans gay marriage. A three-judge panel interpreted language in that amendment as barring public employers from recognizing same-sex unions in any way, including offering benefits. Institutions affected by the ruling include the University of Michigan, and Michigan State, Central Michigan, Eastern Michigan, Northern Michigan, and Wayne State Universities.
Officials at the University of Michigan said that they were "deeply disappointed" in the ruling and would support an appeal to the Michigan Supreme Court, as well as seek an immediate stay while the case is appealed.
Laurita Thomas, an associate vice president of the university and its chief human-resources officer, said in a written statement that the university is allowed to provide health benefits through the end of the year or through the end of the current contract for "bargained-for" employee groups.
"As an employer, we offer benefits to our employees and their dependents in order to recruit and retain the very best faculty and staff," she said. "Our benefits program allows us to be competitive with peer institutions, including private universities, across the country."
The ruling overturns a decision in Ingham County Circuit Court that approved same-sex benefits in a case brought by National Pride at Work Inc., a gay-rights advocacy group, and several individuals against the governor of the state and the City of Kalamazoo. That decision was appealed by Mike Cox, state attorney general.
The Court of Appeals ruling last week rejected arguments that universities have a degree of independence that allow them to offer such benefits.
Meanwhile, Ms. Thomas said, the University of Michigan "will continue to promote access to health benefits for our employees and their families."