Michigan Governor Rick Snyder has been a thorn in the side of the LGBT community. When Public Act 297, was passed by the Republican majority Michigan House and Senate, the governor signed it, registered it with the Michigan Secretary of State, and put it into effect all in the same day. Public Act 297, entitled by its authors, the “Public Employee Domestic Partner Benefit Restriction Act” told same-sex spouses of all public employees — I don’t care what my predecessor Governor Granholm promised you, or what your union contract says, your health insurance is going away.
Five same-sex partners sued the governor. They complained Gov. Snyder had violated their rights of equal protection, and of due process. Friday, Judge David Lawson, who is hearing the case, enjoined Public Act 297 from being enacted, citing the Supreme Court’s DOMA decision.
The Court takes guidance from the Supreme Court’s decision invalidating DOMA, which determined legislative purpose by looking to the “history of . . . enactment” and the statute’s “own text.” Looking to the history and text of Public Act 297, it is hard to argue with a straight face that the primary purpose — indeed, perhaps the sole purpose — of the statute is other than to deny health benefits to the same-sex partners of public employees. But that “can never be a legitimate governmental purpose.”