Michigan House passes bills to deny unmarried partner healthcare benefits


LANSING, Mich. — The Michigan House of Representatives on Thursday passed two bills that would eliminate health care benefits for unmarried partners of state employees.

Additionally, the measures prohibit any state government entity in Michigan from providing such benefits and prohibit unions from including them in collective bargaining agreements.

The bills — HB 4770 and HB 4771 — were approved by a vote of 64-44.

The efforts were led by Michigan’s Republican Attorney General Bill Schuette, and the chief sponsor of the pair of bills, Rep. Dave Agema (R-Grandview), both of whom have been trying to strip away health care benefits for same-sex couples since February.

“We are ashamed of our Republican lawmakers today. They continue to attack hardworking gay and transgender citizens rather than rebuilding our state,” said Emily Dievendorf, Policy Director for Equality Michigan, in a statement.

“Anti-gay legislators are pushing a regressive policy agenda that ignores best practices in business and makes our state hostile to gay and lesbian couples. Voters should be outraged.”

“Tens of thousands of public and private employees in our state have access to health care benefits for domestic partners. Policies that provide such benefits are used throughout the country to treat employees fairly and retain talented workers. Leaders from Fortune 500 companies, public school districts, and municipal governments across the country know that their workforces are stronger when employees are able to take care of their families.”

More than 900,000 employees of private companies in Michigan are eligible to offer health care benefits to their domestic partners, and at least 20 major Michigan-based corporations provide such benefits, including Ford, General Motors, Chrysler, Dow Chemical and Whirlpool.

Among the public entities that currently provide healthcare benefits to unmarried, domestic partners of government employees are the State of Michigan, at least 10 public universities, at least five city and county governments, and at least three public school districts.

The bills now head to the state Senate for consideration.

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