Snyder Responds to Equal Protection Case With Budget Numbers

Gov. Rick Snyder of Michigan is defending a state law that forbids the state and all local governments (and public universities) from providing benefits to same-sex partners in a lawsuit and he’s responding to the equal protection arguments by saying that’s okay because it saves money.

A motion filed Friday by attorneys for Gov. Rick Snyder asks a federal judge to continue Michigan’s ban on domestic partner benefits for same-sex couples who work for state and local governments.

The motion asks Judge David Lawson to rule in favor of the state in a lawsuit filed by five same-sex couples. The motion argues that the 2011 law banning the benefits “eliminates local government programs that are irrational and unfair” and promotes “financially sound” local agencies…

“Public Act 297 is a logical and cohesive part of the effort to reduce costs and to address the fiscal insecurity of local governments that has increased exponentially over the past five years,” the state’s attorneys wrote in the motion. “It is not singular and does not target same-sex couples.”

But this is an argument that Judge David Lawson explicitly rejected when he issued a preliminary injunction in the case last year:

Lawson’s order appeared to conclude the fiscal responsibility argument was a non-starter as a defense against the equal protection claim.

“The only policy issue that the defendant has identified is the desire to save money. But a desire to save money cannot possibly be sufficiently important to require the court to abstain from deciding the constitutional issues raised by the plaintiffs. If it were, states could effectively insulate themselves from constitutional review by the federal courts of virtually any law by citing budgetary concerns,” Lawson wrote.

To me, this is very much like the 1996 case Romer v Evans, where the state forbid all local governments from protecting LGBT people from discrimination of any kind. The public universities and many local governments in the state want to offer such benefits but the state says they can’t. There’s no way the state wins this case at the district court level. It sounds like they aren’t even trying anymore, knowing that they’ll lose. They’re just waiting for the appeals court now.

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What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • Richard Smith

    Just imagine how much more money could be saved by preventing benefits to couples of mixed race! Or couples that haven’t had any children!

  • http://twitter.com/#!/TabbyLavalamp Tabby Lavalamp

    It always gets me when the homophobes bring out the alleged costs of marriage equality because if everyone suddenly turned straight and they married “properly”, those financial concerns would fly out the window.

  • eric

    Even if he accepted the budget argument, this part of the defense would still be wrong:

    “It is not singular and does not target same-sex couples.”

    Yeah, it does. Until such time as the state of Michigan doesn’t give health and employment benefits to spouses of hetero employees, the policy of denying them to gay empolyees is singular and does target same-sex couples.

  • tubi

    Shouldn’t Snyder then suggest legislation banning benefits for all married couples? For that matter, why not just eliminate all employee benefits of any kind for government workers. Sick pay, vacation, health care, bus passes, etc.? Including the Governor.

    And yes, I realize Snyder would be ecstatic if he could pull that off. But I’d like to see him propose and defend those natural extensions of this argument to the voters of Michigan.

  • http://en.uncyclopedia.co/wiki/User:Modusoperandi Modusoperandi

    Pretend budget Hysteria, screwing Public employees and stepping on an Unpopular Minority? All they need is Promoting Christian Privilege and Poor Baiting and I’ve got a bingo on my GOP card.

  • eric

    @5: you only need four. You forgot that the central square – “laser-like focus on the economy” is a feebie.

  • http://en.uncyclopedia.co/wiki/User:Modusoperandi Modusoperandi

    eric “@5: you only need four. You forgot that the central square – ‘laser-like focus on the economy’ is a feebie.”

    Wrong. The GOP card has no freebies. Or if it does, they earned those freebies (it’s the Democrat card that just gives squares away).

  • Alverant

    @2

    I know. What if a gay couple and lesbian couple married each other but lived with their real partners just to get the tax breaks and benefits? Would that be OK with him? Wouldn’t that do more to harm the idea of “marriage” (here defined as two people making a life-long commitment to each other) than letting the two couples marry the people they loved?

  • cry4turtles

    I agree with the consensus here. Today same sex couples, tomorrow everybody! Why should the already overly generous job creators have to pay anything!? (including taxes)

  • Chiroptera

    “…If it were, states could effectively insulate themselves from constitutional review by the federal courts of virtually any law by citing budgetary concerns,” Lawson wrote.

    And besides that, people’s rights shouldn’t depend on who’s willing to pay for them.

  • joelperkin

    Technically, I’m not sure Romer applies. Universities decided to give benefits to anyone the employee designated, and the State outlawed that. It’s (unstated) purpose may have been to deny gay couples, but I think the wording of the law actually treats all couples who are not married in the eyes of the state the same. Besides, there are plenty of other reasons Snyder is an asshole and this should be struck down.