Around Michigan & State Government

Coverage from across Michigan and  the state Capitol with the Michigan Public Radio Network and Interlochen Public Radio.

A federal judge has struck down a Michigan law which prohibits public employers from offering health coverage and other benefits to the unmarried, live-in partners of their employees. In a preliminary ruling, U.S. District Court Judge David Lawson says the law serves no compelling public interest, but it does deny equal protection to people in same-sex relationships.

The U.S. Supreme Court’s decisions on gay marriage don’t really change the legal status of same-sex couples in Michigan. In 2004, voters amended the Michigan Constitution to enact a sweeping ban on same-sex marriage and civil unions.

But there’s a lot happening on the issue in courts, the Legislature, and on the campaign trail. The Supreme Court’s decision returns gay marriage battles to Michigan and the 34 other states that prohibit same-sex marriage.

The Michigan Supreme Court will let stand a policy that allows most state employees to enroll live-in partners on their health plans.  The court today declined to hear a challenge to live-in partner benefits.

The court issued a brief order simply stating the justices saw no reason to take the case.

A special Michigan grand jury, including members from Grand Traverse County, will investigate meningitis deaths and illnesses linked to tainted steroid injections. The grand jury will look into whether any laws were broken in connection with an outbreak that has killed 16 people in Michigan. To people have died from the tainted injections since the request for a grand jury was originally filed. 

Same-Sex Couple Marries In Harbor Springs

Mar 18, 2013

Two men from Boyne City were the first same sex couple in Michigan to be legally married. The ceremony took place Friday, only minutes after the Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians signed a statue to legalize gay marriage within the tribe.

The two men have been together 30 years. Newlywed Tim LaCroix is a member of the Odawa tribe. His spouse, Gene Barfield is not. Under their tribal marriage, Barfield will now get spousal benefits from the tribe.

A decision on whether Michigan’s gay marriage ban is constitutional will wait until this summer. A federal judge in Detroit says he wants to see how the U.S. Supreme Court rules on a pair of gay marriage cases before he makes his ruling.

The case from Michigan started out as a case on adoption rights for same-sex couples. Jayne Rouse and April DeBoer are raising three children together. But under the law, they don’t share joint legal rights and responsibilities.   

The U.S. Supreme Court is about to hear two cases dealing with gay marriage.

At the same time in Michigan, a federal judge could rule as soon as Thursday on a challenge to the state’s ban on same-sex marriage and civil unions. In that case, a lesbian couple sued not because they want to be married, but because they want to be parents.

Harbor Springs Tribe Takes Step Toward Same-Sex Marriage

Mar 6, 2013

An Indian tribe in Harbor Springs could become the third tribe in the nation to recognize gay marriage. The governing council of the Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians approved the proposal this week.

Even though Michigan's constitution bans same-sex marriage, native tribes have their own sovereign authority. 

Annette VanDeCar says tribal leaders are recognizing a long native tradition of honoring "two spirit people."

Governor Rick Snyder has picked a judge and former Republican candidate for county prosecutor to fill a vacancy on the Michigan Supreme Court. Judge David Viviano opposed abortion and same-sex marriage and favored the death penalty during an unsuccessful run for Macomb County prosecutor. He says those questions did not come up during interviews for the job of justice.

Viviano says one of his priorities is to update courts’ technology so the public has easier access to the system.

Meningitis Cases Continue To Rise

Nov 29, 2012

Officials with Munson Medical Center say they’ve seen 37 illnesses possibly related to tainted steroid injections, and two confirmed cases of joint infections.

The number of cases continues to climb statewide, with Michigan topping the nation in illnesses related to a fungal meningitis outbreak. Michigan health officials have linked a total of 185 cases and 10 deaths to the outbreak. Those numbers include infections, as well as fungal meningitis cases, and a stroke.

UPDATE Friday 10/12/2012: The number of cases statewide has grown to 41 and  local health officials say there is a suspected case in Grand Traverse County. A Munson Medical Center spokeswoman says they've been a number of nervous patients in the emergency department, and she encourages people to read the guidelines below before coming in to the hospital. 

Michigan currently has 25 confirmed fungal meningitis cases, including three deaths associated with a national outbreak believed related to tainted steroid injections.

Steroid Medication Linked To Meningitis Outbreak Distributed In Michigan

Oct 5, 2012
Alex E Promios/Flickr

Michigan has been added to a recall of a steroid suspected in a nationwide meningitis outbreak.

Four clinics in Michigan received the steroid medication used to treat back pain, but there have been no cases of meningitis reported in the state in connection with the drug.

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