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Mich. Court: No Health Benefits for Same-Sex Partners

The Michigan Supreme Court ruled yesterday that public employers in the state cannot provide health-insurance benefits to their employees' same-sex domestic partners, because the provision of such benefits violates a Michigan Constitution amendment defining marriage and "similar unions."

In a 5-2 decision, the court ruled that the marriage amendment -- which was approved by Michigan voters in November 2004 and took effect one month later -- prohibits same-sex domestic partnerships from being recognized as unions "similar to marriage." The Detroit Free Press reports that "public employers in Michigan who had offered such benefits already had changed their policies to ensure their employees' partners would remain covered. But lawyers and gay rights advocates said the ruling sends a 'devastating' signal about the state's attitude toward gays, lesbians and their children."

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