I received this email from the Detroit PFLAG chapter and since the message is so important, I'm passing it along here. I already made my call to the Governor, voicing my protest to this hateful, vile legislation and I urge others to do the same thing.
The Senate secretly passed HB 4770 this afternoon, with no notice to the public and now this legislation goes to Governor’s Snyder’s desk. They took out the prohibition on universities (although it’s not clear until we see the actual language if the employees can take this insurance coverage). At any rate this is bad stuff and the only hope now before it becomes law is to have the Governor veto it. Below are talking points and a list of Michigan businesses that provide health insurance coverage to domestic partners.
Please take 5 minutes and to contact Governor Snyder’s office. Today the Michigan Senate, without any notice to the public, passed House Bill 4770, 27-9 which would prohibit public employers from offering health insurance to anyone who is not 1) a legal spouse 2) an IRS dependent, or 3) a legal family member of a public employee. The purpose behind this legislation clearly is to prohibit public employers from offering health insurance coverage to domestic partners (particularly same-sex partners who cannot marry) of public employees, even when the eligibility criteria is not based on their relationship. Should this become law, Michigan will be the only state that prohibits public entities from providing coverage to same-sex partners of employees, just as a matter of fact. Yes, we will have exceeded Mississippi folks on how we treat our LGBT community. In a last minute maneuver, the Senate removed colleges and universities from this prohibition (although it’s not clear until we see the actual language of the amended bill(. However, other public entities are still affected including the State of Michigan as an employer, Ann Arbor, Birmingham, Farmington Hills Public School Districts, the cities of Ann Arbor and Kalamazoo, and Washtenaw, Eaton and Ingham counties. We believe that the quick passage without notice in the Senate may be part of a deal that was cut with the Governor’s office. At any rate, we need to tell Governor Snyder to veto this legislation. The ACLU is working on a legal challenge to this legislation, but it shouldn’t have to get to the point where LGBT couples are losing their health insurance. PLEASE CONTACT GOVERNOR SNYDER NOW AND TELL HIM TO VETO THIS LEGISLATION. I have attached talking points that people can use. This is discriminatory policy and it’s bad economic policy. Please do your part and feel free to circulate this to everyone you know who cares about fairness in our state.
Governor Rick Snyder
P.O. Box 30013
Lansing, Michigan 48909
PHONE: (517) 373-3400
PHONE: (517) 335-7858 - Constituent Services
Talking points when speaking with Governor Snyder
· This is bad for our State’s economy. Governor Snyder says he wants to run our State like a business. The biggest and most successful companies in Michigan provide health insurance coverage to domestic partners of their employees, because they realize that it makes good business sense. If we are going to attract and retain the most talented and loyal people to invest in Michigan, we cannot pull away the welcome mat. (Attached is a list of companies in Michigan that provide health insurance coverage to domestic partners of employees).
· The bills are unconstitutional. They usurp the specific powers granted in Michigan’s Constitution giving public employers the autonomy to decide terms of compensation for its employees, including health insurance. The Governor’s own legal counsel previously advised the legislature that it is unconstitutional to penalize colleges and universities that provide this health insurance coverage. Should the legislation pass, it will surely be challenged as unconstitutional in court. Costly litigation is not the best way to spend our state’s limited resources- especially when it will result in having the law overturned.
· At a time when state resources are severely limited, we cannot take away employee health insurance from families. Less employment insurance coverage will only increase the demand for state funded insurance programs, like Medicaid, which are already financially strapped.
· Michigan’s State Personnel Director has estimated that the cost of covering designated others under the Michigan Civil Service insurance policy would be less than $600,000, because preliminary numbers indicate that less than 100 employees out of the state government workforce of 47,692 will utilize this benefit. This is far less than House Fiscal Estimate of $8 million. The February 2009 Study from the Employee Benefit Research Institute found that an average of 1 percent eligible employees offered coverage for their domestic partners actually elected to take it. The report cites a 2005 Study from Hewitt Associates that in a majority of organizations that offer health insurance coverage for domestic partners, that this comprises less than 2 percent of total benefit costs. (It still would be great to get the actual costs from the public entities that currently provide health insurance coverage for domestic partners).
· Providing this coverage is not getting around Michigan’s Marriage Amendment- it’s complying with the constitutional amendment. Both Michigan’s Attorney General and Michigan appellate courts have stated that the amendment does not prohibit insurance coverage for unmarried partners of public employees, so long as the eligibility criteria is not based on the domestic partner relationship. Currently none of the public entities providing health insurance coverage to domestic partners of employees, based eligibility on the domestic partner relationship.