Michigan Marriage Amendment Nixes Domestic Partners Benefits:

So said the Michigan Supreme Court in a 5-2 decision today.

By state constitutional amenment in 2004, Michigan voters barred the state from recognizing same-sex marriages. But the awkwardly worded amendment went further: "To secure and preserve the benefits of marriage for our society and for future generations of children, the union of one man and one woman in marriage shall be the only agreement recognized as a marriage or similar union for any purpose."

The "similar union" language, along with the "for any purpose" language, was enough for the majority to conclude that it prohibited same-sex domestic partners benefits provided by some 20 state universities and municipal entities in the state. From the dissent: "It is an odd notion to find that a union that shares only one of the hundreds of benefits that a marriage provides is a union similar to marriage."

The Michigan decision sets an interpretive precedent that may be followed in the many other states that have banned same-sex marriages and recognition of other relationships "similar" to marriage.

UPDATE: The full opinion is now available here.