Jottings By An Employer's Lawyer

Friday, October 22, 2004

The Devil Is (Always) In the Details - Possible Impact of State Constitutional Amendment on Domestic Partner Benefits

As states leap into the breach (or maybe the fire?) to deal with issues related to same sex marriage, it may make for a period of unsettled times for employers with respect to a number of issues. For example, voters in Michigan will vote on the following constitutional amendment on November 2:
To secure and preserve the benefits of marriage for our society and for future generations of children, 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.
It is the highlighted words that are causing concern about how this might impact employer currently (or considering) providing benefits for same sex partners. According to at least some quoted in this story in Detroit's metrotimes this would bar government employers in Michigan from providing such benefits, not impact many private employers, and leave private employers who contract with or receive funds from the State in limbo.

Michigan is not the only state facing this issue. In Ohio, Issue 1, a similar amendment is drawing fire because of its potential impact on business. According to a Cleveland News Herald editorial, Passage of Issue 1 bad for Ohio business , it has even brought out opposition from the state's two Republican senators, George Voinovich and Mike DeWine.

More proof that nothing is ever as simple as it seems.

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