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KALAMAZOO, Mich. (WOOD) - Families packed a courtroom this week to hear arguments regarding a state law that prohibits certain public employers from providing health care benefits to non-married couples, including same-sex pairs.
-- Read the full law (Public Act 297 of 2011) (pdf) --
The ACLU filed a lawsuit on behalf of four couples. A U.S. District Court judge heard from both sides this week.
One of the couples involved in the suit told 24 Hour News 8 why they want the law wiped out.
"It breaks my heart. It absolutely breaks my heart," said Barbara Ramber. "There are so many people out there in situations like us and they need to provide for their families."
Ramber and her partner Jo Linda Jach of Kalamazoo both testified in court this week, arguing the new state law discriminates against same-sex couples.
But Michigan attorney Margaret Nelson defends the law, saying it saves the state money. In court briefs, the State urges the judge to dismiss the case because the plaintiffs' claim "fails as a matter of law because they are not treated differently than similarly-situated public employees."
"This is our family we're talking about," said Jach. "We're just like any other family in America. We have a house payment. We have children."
Ramber will lose her benefits in December, but she has glaucoma and could go blind if she doesn't get continuous treatment and medication.
"Suddenly you're not accessible to that," said Ramber. "'And we don't care if you go blind,' and that's sort of what I feel like what the State is saying to me and that's really scary."
The court could ask for more briefings, rule in favor of the ACLU and the couples or throw the case out as the State requested.
Ten people have filed a class action suit against Mercantile Bank, alleging the bank discriminated against minority business owners.
A camera mounted on a tow truck caught an example of a common incident Tuesday: a vehicle sliding off the road.
Officers from multiple law enforcement agencies worked together Tuesday evening to chase down an alleged van thief, despite slippery roads.