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Federal Court Enjoins PA 297, Which Prohibits Public Employers From Providing Benefits to Same-Sex Partners of Employees

July 1, 2013

On June 28, 2013, a federal judge in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan granted a preliminary injunction barring the State of Michigan from enforcing PA 297 of 2011, which prohibits public employers from extending medical and other benefits to the same-sex partners of their employees. Bassett v. Snyder, E.D. Mich., No. 2:12-cv-10038. Judge David Lawson found that the plaintiff group of five same-sex partners made a "plausible" claim that the law violates the Equal Protection clause of the United States Constitution. He quoted sponsors of PA 297 to show the act was constructed specifically to target same-sex couples.

However, the suit, filed about a year ago against Governor Snyder, is not over. This ruling only blocks enforcement of the law until a final ruling is made on its constitutionality. The ruling does not require school districts to take any action at this time. In other words, for the time being, PA 297 is still the law.

Therefore, at this time we still caution school districts from entering into any agreements that would provide benefits for same-sex partners. The Clark Hill Education Practice Group will continue to follow the suit and provide updates on any further developments. In the meantime, if you have any questions regarding the Act or its potential impact, please call your Clark Hill Education Practice Group attorney for guidance.

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