Politics & Prejudices
How this came to pass
Mikhail Gorbachev and Christmas 1991 set the stage (no kidding)
Published: December 28, 2011
But he may have blundered badly last week, when he signed the bill that outlaws extending health care and other benefits to the domestic partners of state employees. The governor pretended this was about "spiraling costs." In fact, this was really a gay-bashing measure, and he was pandering to the far right by signing it.
That will lose him some people forever. But there is a bigger problem that virtually guarantees that the state will pay out more in legal fees than it saves. Under the Michigan Constitution, the state universities have the right to make their own rules. The governor first said he wouldn't sign this law if he thought it applied to them.
When Snyder did sign it, he said he was convinced it didn't apply to people employed by universities or the partners of state civil service workers. But what he thinks doesn't mean much.
Plenty of others, including the right-wing Republicans who pushed this through the lower house, think it does ban universities from providing domestic partner benefits, and they are determined to drag this into the courts and fight that battle out.
The universities are already defiantly circling the wagons. Within hours after the signing, Wayne State University President Allan Gilmour said he was convinced the school still could legally provide such benefits, and planned to do so.
Snyder could have avoided this by simply refusing to sign the bill and sending it back, saying he needed the law rewritten to specifically exempt university employees,. But he didn't do that. The result will be what he might end up seeing as a "relentless negative distraction."
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