In November 2004, Michigan voters passed the ban on gay marriage, after being told it was only to affect marriage and not same-sex partner benefits. Two major organizations that supported the amendment, the American Family Association of Michigan and Citizens for the Protection of Marriage, stated the amendment would affect "marriage only."
That was false. Recall that this February, the Michigan Court of Appeals ruled that the ban on gay marriage prohibits government agencies and public schools from providing health care and other benefits to employees' same-sex partners.
Though Mary Sue Coleman was strangely quiet on the issue, I received e-mails from her and the head librarian here reassuring us that the U would be doing its best to see that partner benefits would continue uninterrupted after the ban takes effect at the end of 2007.
She came through on her promises. Today, the University of Michigan announced its workaround, offering benefits to "Other Qualified Adults." Essentially, the employee and the Other Qualified Adult live together but are not married, can not marry, have a joint account, and power of attorney.
It looks like this designated beneficiaries plan has its nexus from the GEO, the graduate students union, based on this story. This is a cleverly subversive solution that will hopefully have long-term positive impacts for Michigan's economy.