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Feb. 2, 2007
CONTACT: Pamela Young

EMU reviews court ruling prohibiting same-sex partner benefits

YPSILANTI —The Michigan Court of Appeals issued a ruling today prohibiting the state’s public employers from providing benefits to the same-sex partners of their employees. The American Civil Liberties Union of Michigan has stated that it plans to file an appeal with the Michigan Supreme Court. Eastern Michigan University intends to evaluate the court’s decision before taking any action related to its domestic partner benefits policy.

“Eastern Michigan University has not had an opportunity to thoroughly review the Michigan Court of Appeals decision. The University is in the process of reviewing the decision and determining how the decision will impact EMU’s domestic partner benefits policy. The University is also monitoring whether the plaintiffs in the lawsuit will file a request with the Michigan Supreme Court for leave to appeal and a stay of the decision,” said University Attorney Ken McKanders.

A three-judge panel of the Court of Appeals said a ban on gay marriage, approved by Michigan citizens in 2004, also applies to same-sex domestic partner benefits. Today’s decision reverses a 2005 ruling from an Ingham County judge who said universities and governments could provide such benefits. “The marriage amendment’s plain language prohibits public employers from recognizing same-sex unions for any purpose,” the Court wrote in today’s ruling.

EMU and many other state-supported universities provide same-sex domestic partner benefits to non-bargained-for employees and unionized employee groups.

EMU’s Board of Regents first approved the domestic partner benefits policy in 1999. When approved, it applied only to faculty, and was later extended to all other employee groups. Eastern Michigan University currently has 1,975 employees who are eligible to receive benefits, within seven unions and three non-bargained-for classifications. A total of 19 employees are currently taking advantage of the domestic-partner benefit program.

Eastern Michigan University is a public, comprehensive university that offers programs in the arts, sciences and professions. EMU prepares students with the intellectual skills and practical experiences to succeed in their career and lives, and to be better citizens.

Editor's Note: Looking for an expert source for a story? Check out EMU's Eastern Experts online at www.emich.edu/univcomm/easternexperts.

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