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Bassett et al. v. Snyder

Location: Michigan
Status: Closed (Judgment)
Last Update: November 12, 2014

What's at Stake

The American Civil Liberties Union and ACLU of Michigan have filed a lawsuit asking a federal court to strike down a new state law that bans many public entities from providing health care insurance to the domestic partners of their employees. The lawsuit was filed on behalf of school teachers, city and county workers and their domestic partners who will lose their health insurance as a result of the law.

The lawsuit charges that the new law discriminates by categorically denying domestic partners access to benefits and violates the constitutional right to equal protection by forcing gay and lesbian employees in committed relationships to carry the financial hardship and anxiety of being uninsured, while allowing heterosexual couples to marry and receive family health protections. In addition, the law only bars domestic partners from receiving health care coverage, while allowing government employers to offer these benefits to all other family members, including parents, siblings, uncles and cousins.

Proponents point to the “high cost” of domestic partner health care coverage as the motivating force to enact such a law. However, an analysis of programs across the state proves these numbers to be wildly inaccurate. In fact, studies show that domestic partner health care coverage, in addition to attracting and retaining the best employees, costs well under one percent of the health care budget of public employers who voluntarily provide these benefits. Additionally, unlike married couples, domestic partners must pay taxes to the state on their health insurance benefits – revenue that the state would lose under the new law. Corporations throughout Michigan and the nation have determined that providing domestic partner benefits to employees is essential to remaining competitive and attracting and retaining top talent.

The families are represented by Amanda C. Goad and John A. Knight of the ACLU LGBT Project, Kary L. Moss, Michael J. Steinberg and Jay Kaplan of the ACLU of Michigan, and Amy E. Crawford and Bradley H. Weidenhammer of Kirkland & Ellis LLP.

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