Just days after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned key portions of the Defense of Marriage Act, a federal judge has blocked Michigan's ban on domestic partner benefits for employees who work for public schools or local governments.

Some in the legal community said the ruling could be viewed as a way for gay employees of public school or local governments in other states that do not support gay marriage to push for benefits. When some states outlawed gay marriages, they also prohibited same-sex partner benefits.

U.S. District Judge David Lawson said plaintiffs who were denied benefits or were forced to buy expensive private health insurance have made a "plausible claim" that the Michigan law violates the Equal Protection Clause of the U.S. Constitution. The ruling is only an injunction, not a final decision, but Lawson's strong language implies the law soon might be overturned for good.

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