Michigan commission OKs same-sex domestic partner benefits

Michigan will soon pay for state health insurance for some same-sex partners or other adults living with state employees.

The decision made by the Michigan Civil Service Commission Wednesday is a controversial one.

Some say we can't afford the extended benefits, while others argue the state can't afford not to.

Health insurance benefits are now extended to same-sex couples or an unrelated adult living with a state employee.

I think everybody should be treated fairly and equally, I mean if you employ somebody that isn't same sex and they have a spouse you are giving them insurance, so everybody should get the exact same thing, said Terri Dinsmore, the President of Genesee County PFLAG.

The Snyder Administration is concerned what the measure will cost.

Analysts predict the state may have to pay up to six million dollars for benefits this year.

The chair of the Michigan Civil Service Commission voted against the measure.

After last year taking away a three percent wage increase for the non-union employees, and with the current budget crunch, I could not vote to extend benefits to non-state employees, because if we don't have the money to pay state employees, why would we incur more cost to insure non-state employees, said Thomas Wardrop, the Chair of the Michigan Civil Service Commission.

Davison resident, Bill Brasseur agrees, saying his tax dollars should be spent on job creation.

They don't have tax money coming in; they need to find more jobs so they can get some revenue, once we have more money, than we can worry about the rest of it, said Brasseur.

But the organization Equality Michigan argues extending state health benefits will attract businesses to Michigan.

This sends a message to employers and employees, that you are welcome here, this is an inclusive state, said Denise Brogan-Kator, the Interim Executive Director of Equality Michigan.

The benefits will be available in October.

The chair of the Michigan Civil Service Commission says the decision is not final.

The legislature could overturn the measure by a 2/3 vote, if the benefits are considered compensation.

The extended benefits will be available for the United Workers Local 6000, SEIU workers, and about 15,000 non-union state employees.