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Mich. Gov. Wants to Keep Denying Benefits to Same-Sex Couples

By Sunnivie Brydum

Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder has asked a federal court to allow the state to continue denying domestic-partner benefits to gays and lesbians who work for state and local governments, reports MLive.com.

In a brief filed Friday, Snyder, a Republican, asked U.S. District Judge David Lawson to uphold the state's ban on benefits for same-sex partners of state and municipal employees, hoping to place a stay on Lawson's 2013 ruling that put the law on hold after five same-sex couples sued, claiming it violated their constitutional rights. 

Lawson's June ruling determined that Michigan's Public Act 297, which prevents public employers from providing spousal benefits to same-sex partners, likely violated the equal protection clause of the U.S. Constitution, and issued a temporary injunction ordering the state to stop enforcing the law, according to MLive

Snyder's motion for summary judgment, filed by Attorney General Bill Schuette, contends that Public Act 297 is a cost-saving measure for the state. 

"Public Act 297 is a logical and cohesive part of the effort to reduce costs and to address the fiscal insecurity of local governments that has increased exponentially over the past five years," the state's attorneys wrote in the motion, according to MLive. "It is not singular and does not target same-sex couples."

But Lawson's June injunctive ruling seemed to reject this argument outright, determining that "a desire to save money cannot possibly be sufficiently important to require the court to abstain from deciding the constitutional issues raised by the plaintiffs. If it were, states could effectively insulate themselves from constitutional review by the federal courts of virtually any law by citing budgetary concerns."

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