Same-sex rights debate continues in Gensee County

For now same-sex couples are unable to legally marry in Michigan. And while their marriages are not recognized the state, some Michigan based businesses are now choosing to recognize the unions and provide benefits to same sex couples.

"I spend 24 years hiding who I was because I feared losing my job," said Phillip Hubbard.

Hubbard, an openly gay man, is continuing his fight for gay rights after a recent surgery complication kept his partner from checking on him.

"My partner is trans male to female," said Hubbard.

Without legal marriage or a shared employer health plan, the hospital can not legally give out information about his condition to Hubbard's partner.

"My partner was unable to get answers from the doctor."

Companies like General Motors are extending benefits to same sex couples. They call it evolving hiring. Itâ??s something economists say could catch on with smaller businesses.

"Maybe they start providing benefits for previous same-sex partners," said University of Michigan-Flint Economics Professor Chris Douglas.

However, Governor Rick Snyder is supporting the states ban on partner benefits for same-sex couples working in state and local government.

"There would be a cost associated with providing those benefits to state and local governments and local school districts," said Douglas.

"The states are going to have to open their eyes and see its discrimination and see that itâ??s happening one state at a time," said Hubbard.

The fight for gay rights is nationwide; Arizona Governor Jan Brewer is weighing the options on whether to allow legislation that would allow business owners to deny service to gay and lesbian customers.