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The Law Blogger is a law-related blog that informs and discusses current matters of legal interest to readers of The Oakland Press and to consumers of legal services in the community. We hope readers will  find it entertaining but also informative. The Law Blogger does not, however, impart legal advice, as only attorneys are licensed to provide legal counsel.
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Saturday, December 20, 2014

Federal Judge Overturns Ban on Domestic Partner Benefits

U.S. District Judge David Lawson
Over a year ago, U.S. Federal District Judge David Lawson enjoined public entities from refusing the provide government benefits to domestic partners or same-sex couples.

Last month, in Bassett, et al vs Governor Snyder, Judge Lawson finally issued a 34-page opinion disposing of the cross motions for summary judgment filed in the matter. The decision cites to Judge Friedman's ruling in the DeBoer case as well as the seminal case on federal benefits: United States v Windsor.

The Michigan law that was struck in the federal case bans public schools and local governments from offering benefits to same-sex couples. In striking down the state law, Judge Lawson characterized the law as being imbued with an "irrational prejudice".

In so ruling, Judge Lawson distinguished his case from the multitude of same-sex marriage and adoption cases now pending on appeal.  Judge Lawson noted that, "this case is not about marriage." He said the state law ban, "amounts to a classification based on an irrational prejudice which cannot be sustained."

Contrary to the state's assertions that the ban was merely designed to save money, Judge Lawson saw an animus against gays; a punishment of same-sex couples.

Considering that the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals reversed Judge Friedman's DeBoer decision supporting same-sex couples, an appeal filed by the Michigan Attorney General would seem inevitable; the deadline recently passed so we will be checking PACER on Monday.

These issues will continue to play out in the federal appellate circuits over the next few years. For our part, we will continue to monitor and report on the developments. The pace quickens for this task.

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