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National Pride at Work v. Governor of Michigan

481 Mich. 56, 748 N.W.2d 524 (2008)

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National Pride at Work v. Governor of Michigan

Michigan Supreme Court

481 Mich. 56, 748 N.W.2d 524 (2008)

Facts

Michigan ratified an amendment to its state constitution (marriage amendment) providing, in part, 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.” Prior to ratification, debate over the amendment centered on whether it would preclude employers from offering health-insurance benefits to same-sex partners of employees. Several of the amendment’s supporters made public statements assuring voters that the amendment would not affect health-insurance benefits. Polls taken prior to the ratification of the amendment indicated that a majority of Michigan residents approved of defining marriage as the union of one man and one woman, but that they did not approve of interfering with health-insurance benefits for same-sex couples. The City of Kalamazoo’s domestic-partnership policy extended health-insurance benefits to spouses of city employees and to partners of unmarried employees. The policy established requirements of domestic partners, including a requirement that the partners be: of the same sex, over age 18, cohabiting, unmarried and not closely related by blood, and mutually financially dependent. Other public employers had similar policies. The state attorney general issued a formal opinion, determining that the marriage amendment prohibited public employers from offering health-insurance benefits to the same-sex partners of employees, prompting National Pride at Work (plaintiff) to file a declaratory-judgment action to determine the validity of the attorney general’s opinion. The trial court found for National Pride at Work. The appellate court reversed, ruling that the attorney general’s opinion was correct. The Michigan Supreme Court granted leave to appeal.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Markman, J.)

Dissent (Kelly, J.)

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