Michigan State Sued For Violating State Marriage Law

6 07 2006

Michigan State University (MSU) is in violation of the Marriage Amendment to Michigan’s Constitution, which provides that “the union of one man and one woman in marriage shall be the only agreement recognized as a marriage or similar union for any purpose,” and Michigan statutes that prohibit recognition of same-sex marriages.

A conservative group on Wednesday sued to stop Michigan State University from offering health insurance to the partners of gay and lesbian workers and said the school is violating the state constitution.

The American Family Association of Michigan hopes to get a ruling setting a precedent that would block domestic partner benefits at other state universities. Schools in the state that provide benefits to same-sex couples include the University of Michigan, Wayne State and Central Michigan.

Deborah Labelle, an attorney for the American Civil Liberties Union of Michigan, said the suit is pointless because a state appeals court is already set to rule on the issue. She characterized attempts to strip benefits from same-sex partners as “mean-spirited.”

The lawsuit’s purpose is to ensure that courts rule on the constitutionality of domestic partner benefits at public universities, said Patrick Gillen, an attorney for the Thomas More Law Center in Ann Arbor, which is representing the American Family Association.

By providing the benefits, Michigan State is “recognizing same-sex marriage in substance, if not by label,” Gillen said.

Michigan State spokesman Terry Denbow said the school would not comment on pending litigation.

MSU’s policy is a transparent effort to circumvent the Marriage Amendment and state law. The constitution and laws of Michigan are designed to protect marriage and refuse recognition to same-sex unions, including same-sex domestic partnerships. Common sense and history demonstrate the enduring value of the traditional family, and its vital role in promoting the good of spouses and children, as well as the common good of society. MSU is not free to disregard state law to promote its own definition of marriage and use state funds to promote its experiment with the family.

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