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Supreme Court refuses domestic partner benefits challenge

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The Michigan Supreme Court will not hear a challenge to benefits that cover the live-in partners of state employees. That ruling means the challenge will have to go first to the state Court of Appeals. This is the newest wrinkle in the legal and political drama playing out over allowing benefits that cover public employees’ unmarried partners, including people in same-sex relationships.

Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette hoped to take his case directly to the state Supreme Court after losing in the Ingham County circuit court. He says the Michigan Civil Service Commission cannot approve contracts with state employees that include benefits that cover same-sex partners.

The Supreme Court says Schuette will have to argue first in the state Court of Appeals and wait on a ruling, which means many more months could go by before the case reaches Michigan’s highest court.

This case is separate from a new state law forbidding benefits that cover the unmarried partners of public employees. Governor Rick Snyder says the law does not apply to university employees or people who work for the state.

Rick Pluta is Senior Capitol Correspondent for the Michigan Public Radio Network. He has been covering Michigan’s Capitol, government, and politics since 1987.
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