Gay Bashing in Michigan

GAY BASHING IN MICHIGAN….Back in 2004, when Michigan approved a referendum to ban gay marriage, supporters insisted that marriage itself was the only thing they were concerned about. Benefits for gay partners wouldn’t be affected. Jonathan Cohn reports from Ann Arbor on the reality:

But — as critics warned at the time — the ban’s wording was ambiguous: “The union of one man and one woman in marriage,” it said, “shall be the only agreement recognized as a marriage or similar union for any purpose.”

That left it open for broad interpretation. And it didn’t take long before State Attorney General Mike Cox, a conservative Republican, took advantage of the situation. In early 2005, he issued an opinion barring state employers from offering spousal benefits to same-sex couples. The American Civil Liberties Union sued, along with 21 gay and lesbian couples in Michigan, and, initially, a local judge sided with the plaintiffs. But then the appellate court reversed the lower judge’s ruling. With the state Supreme Court unlikely to overrule, the state’s public employers began notifying employers that spousal benefits would likely end within the year.

Is this an example of conservative overreach that will come back to haunt Republicans? Maybe not immediately, but Cohn suggests it might turn out that way before long. We can hope.