Way back in 2004, when the God-fearin' flocks on the religious right were pushing a constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriages in Michigan (even though such marriages were already prohibited), we were told by proponents of the measure that it would in no way stop the government from extending domestic partner benefits to same-sex couples.
Gay groups and civil liberty types read the intentions of the proposal differently, and warned that the amendment's vague wording could lead to court rulings that prohibited not just gays but all unmarried couples from receiving domestic partner benefits from government employers.
Don't worry, said proponents in response.
As Gary Glenn of the American Family Association of Michigan assured this paper's Michael Jackman ("Six words of separation," MT, Oct. 20, 2004), the only purpose of the amendment was to guarantee that the sanctity of marriage between one man and one woman was maintained and protected, and that domestic partnership benefits would not be affected.
Just a few weeks before the election, Glenn promised Jackman that "every single person receiving any kind of benefit would continue to do so" should the measure known as Proposal 2 receive voter approval.
As depicted by the Bible thumpers, desperate lefties were just throwing a red herring into the debate by raising the issue of domestic partner benefits. Now, more than two years after voters approved Prop. 2 by a margin of 59 percent to 41 percent, it turns out that the prophets on the left aren't the ones with the stink of rotten fish smeared on their hands.
Which has News Hits thinking that maybe it's time to do a little editing of the Lord's Prayer so that it reads "Lead us not into deception ..." Because deceived is certainly how the people of this state should be feeling since last week's Michigan Court of Appeals ruling that the marriage amendment does indeed prohibit public employers from offering gay and lesbian couples domestic partner benefits.
"By officially recognizing same-sex unions through the vehicle of a domestic partnership agreement, public employers give same-sex domestic couples similar status to that of married couples," wrote members of the three-judge panel in their opinion. Such benefits, the judges explained, would "run directly afoul of the plain language of the agreement."
That conforms to the opinion issued by Michigan Attorney General Mike Cox a few months after voters approved the amendment. Soon afterward, the American Civil Liberties Union of Michigan filed a suit in Ingham County Circuit Court challenging Cox's interpretation. Among those included in the suit were National Pride at Work Inc. an AFL-CIO-affiliated gay advocacy group based in Washington, D.C. as well as Kalamazoo city employees, state university employees and workers from various state departments and agencies.
In September 2005, Ingham County Circuit Court Judge Joyce Draganchuk sided with the ACLU, ruling that the amendment only prohibited gay marriage, and didn't affect the issue of domestic partner benefits. And the lefties cheered.
That cheering stopped last week with the appellate court's ruling. Among other things, those defending the right of the gays and lesbians to receive these benefits were chagrined that the Court of Appeals refused to consider the role false claims about the scope of the amendment had in helping it get passed.
"There was a definite bait and switch that went on," says Jay Kaplan, legal director of the Michigan ACLU's LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) program. But, he laments, the appellate court wouldn't even consider that argument, focusing instead on the amendment's language, which they said was unambiguous.
But even the homophobes out there might wait to celebrate this latest ruling because, as Kaplan says, the appellate judges explicitly pointed out in their decision that domestic partner benefits can't be granted to any unmarried couples.
Guess that's what y'all get for living in sin. And the kids that lose health coverage as a result, well, that's just the price they'll have to pay to make sure this state's policies are good and godly.
The ACLU plans to take the case to the Michigan Supreme Court. And as the legal battle drags on, another lefty prophecy is coming true. Back in 2004, when MT columnist Jack Lessenberry was urging voters to reject the amendment, he warned that, among other things, passage would "lead to full employment forever at taxpayer expense for legions of lawyers."
OK, maybe not forever. But his predictions, and those from others on the left, turned out to reflect the truth much more than the words of assurance coming from those folks who claimed to have God on their side.News Hits is edited by Curt Guyette. Contact him at 313-202-8004 or NewsHits@metrotimes.com