Wednesday, June 6, 2007

"The Law is the Law"

The list of public institutions discontinuing same-sex domestic partner benefits in Michigan grows daily. MSU will no longer offer benefits and the existing benefits will end when current contracts expire. (According to Pam Beemer, assistant vice president for Human Resources at MSU, 54 people currently use the benefit at MSU.) What took them so long? University of Michigan made that announcement immediately after the February 2 Court of Appeals ruling.

According to Rusty Hill, spokesman for Attorney General Mike Cox, "the law is the law." So public institutions will need to find creative ways to rename and restructure the benefits extended to same-sex domestic partners. And it behooves them to do so immediately, unless they want to lose valuable employees to more welcoming states and employers.

The law doesn't deny the right to provide health insurance or other benefits to domestic partners; it denies the right to equate the benefit in any way with the benefits given to straight married people. Certainly, human resources and legal departments can work around that. Let's see...what might we call this employment benefit? "Health Insurance Allowance" to be used at employee discretion? Fine. Call it something else, but don't leave couples and families with children in the lurch.