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Michigan Domestic Partner Benefits Campaign Tells Gov. Rick Snyder To Be 'One Tough Nerd'

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The Equality Michigan Pride political action committee launched a campaign this week calling on Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder to live up to his "one tough nerd" nickname.

The campaign, which includes radio ads and a website where supporters can sign a letter addressed to Snyder, responds to the governor's decision in December to sign House Bill 4770, which bans health care benefits for domestic partners of public employees.

The PAC's letter states that as a self-identified "nerd," Snyder should understand how the bill negatively effects some of Michigan's residents. It also says he should have been tough enough to stand up to lobbyists and donors who pushed the legislation.

"The Governor has made compromises we find disappointing," said Amy Hunter, president of the PAC. "After nearly a year-long policy debate, Snyder has put hardworking couples and their children into harm's way by eliminating important health care coverage. Michigan's gay residents are fed up, and this is one way that we're pushing back."

The ban on domestic partner benefits affects all unmarried state employees. But since Michigan's constitution bans same-sex marriage, opponents of the ban say it disproportionately affects gay and lesbian Michiganders.

Statewide, the response to the new legislation has been mixed. ACLU Michigan filed a suit against Snyder on behalf of four couples who say they are now denied their constitutional right to equal protection. And on the day of Snyder's State of the State address, LGBT community groups from across the state rallied in Lansing to oppose the bill.

But while the new law is sparking protests, a poll released this week showed a majority of Michigan's likely voters oppose health care benefits for domestic partners, the Free Press reported. Conducted by Denno Research and the public relations firm Lambert, Edwards and Associates, the poll found 54 percent of respondents opposed domestic partner benefits, while 32 percent favored them. Men were more likely to oppose benefits than women.

Snyder and proponents of the bill have championed its cost savings for the state, rather than address its social implications. On Wednesday, Snyder told the Associated Press he will continue to avoid divisive legislation -- a remark that might ring hollow to many LGBT activists.

Equality Michigan Pride PAC's letter implies Snyder may not have personally supported a ban on domestic partner benefits, but still signed it for political reasons.

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