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Religious Tolerance logo

Same-sex marriages (SSM) & civil unions in Michigan.

Part 2: 2013 MAY & JUN: Public opinion poll
(Cont'd). 4 SSM bills introduced in Legislature.
Court declares Michigan law unconstitutional.

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This topic is continued from the previous essay

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2013-MAY-09: Results of Glengariff Group poll about SSM (Cont'd):

  • The main question concerning same-sex marriage: Voters were asked:

    "If a proposed amendment to the Michigan Constitution were placed on a future election ballot, which if approved by voters, would allow same sex couples to get married – if the election were held today, would you vote Yes to approve of the amendment, or, would you vote No to oppose it?"

    Results were:

    • 55% favored allowing SSM. This agreed closely with the 56.8% found in the Glengariff poll above.
    • 41% opposed allowing SSM
    • 4% were undecided or didn't answer.
    • By political party or leaning:
      • Democrats 76% in favor; 21% opposed.
      • Independents: 54% in favor;. 41% opposed
      • Republicans 31% in favor; 63% opposed
      • Conservatives 30% vs. 64%
      • Moderates 66% vs. 31%
      • Liberals: 86% vs. 12%
      • Tea Party supporters: 36% vs 60%.

  • Followup question on SSM: The poll asked a followup question for those respondents who answered "opposed" or "undecided" to the previous marriage amendment question. 1,2 They were asked:

    "A constitutional amendment to allow same sex marriages would not in any way force a religious denomination or organization to conduct a wedding ceremony or sacrament of marriage between same sex couples. Knowing this, let me ask you again, if the election on a constitutional amendment to allow same sex marriage were held today, would you vote Yes to approve of the amendment or, would you vote No to oppose it?"

Results were:

  • 57% favored allowing SSM
  • 39% opposed allowing SSM
  • 4% were undecided or didn't answer.

These results were totally unexpected to the folks at this web site. Over the years, we have studied hundreds of questions posed by public opinion polls -- some national polls and some collected at the state and country level. We have never seen a result as strange as this one.

The results show that 270 respondents, out of whom 246 were opposed to SSM and 24 were unsure, suddenly voted 154 in favor of SSM, 105 against SSM and 11 were undecided. We can think of only three possible explanations for a result in which such a large percentage of people switched from opposition to support for SSM.

  1. The data got completely scrambled in some way due to a major error in calculation. That seems very unlikely because EPIC-MRA is an experienced polling group.

  2. A lot of people in Michigan are mainly opposed to SSM because they fear that if same-sex marriage is legalized, then their faith groups would be forced to marry same-sex couples. The polling agency assured them that this would not happen, and so many of the respondents no longer had any real objection to SSM. This would require that the people polled had an almost complete lack of familiarity with the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution that guarantees separation of "church and state". They would probably have been unaware that over the past centuries, churches had refused to marry non-white couples, inter-racial couples, inter-faith couples, and in the case of the Roman Catholic church, couples where one partner was physically disabled. All of these results appear very unlikely. If it were true, then a logical inference would be that if voters could be convinced that their faith groups would never be forced to conduct same-sex marriage ceremonies against their wishes, then a constitutional amendment on SSM might well pass with the largest majority in history.

  3. By accident, the followup question was asked of all 600 persons, not just the 246 respondents who indicated that they were opposed to SSM and the 24 who were unsure. One would then expect that the results would be similar to the answers given for the first question, with a slightly increased percentage in favor and a slightly reduced percentage against SSM. That is exactly what was observed: those in favor increased slightly from 55% to 57% while those opposed dropped slightly from 41% to 39%.

    We suspect that EPIC-MRA had an internal miscommunication, and the entire group of 600 respondents was asked the followup question. The only information that can be extracted from the answers to the followup question is that the vast majority of the voters in Michigan are secure in the knowledge that no court or government can intrude on their beliefs and force their faith groups to marry couples that they feel should not be married.

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2013-JUN-24: Four State Representatives sponsor SSM-related bills:

Four state representatives, , Rudy Hobbs, Jeff Irwin, Kate Segal, and Sam Singh -- all Democrats -- announced the introduction of four bills. They are:

  • A bill to repeal the amendment to the state constitution made in 2004 that banned SSM.

  • A bill to amend the foreign marriage act to allow same-sex marriages solemnized in other states to be recognized in Michigan.

  • A bill to amend the state marriage law to allow same-sex marriage.

  • A resolution calling on the U.S. Congress to repeal the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). At the time, that act prevented the federal government from extending 1,138 grants, benefits and protections to same-sex married couples that are currently given only to opposite-sex married couples. However, two days after the bills were introduced, the U.S. Supreme Court issued a ruling in Windsor v. United States that declared Section 3 of DOMA to be unconstitutional. With that section removed, some same-sex married couples had access to the 1,138 benefits.

Rep. Rudy Hobbs (D) said:

"Recent polls have shown that the tide is shifting and a majority of citizens support marriage equality. With or without those polls, supporting the love of our brothers, sisters, friends, and their partners in this fight for inclusiveness is the right move for Michigan and the right thing to do."

Rep. Jeff Irwin (D) said:

"It’s time for Michigan to stop discriminating against the thousands of couples who want to marry and enjoy the same recognition and benefits for themselves and their children that come with marriage, and that my wife, Kathryn, and our kids enjoy. The legislation that we propose today represents the next step in the fight to ensure all citizens are equal in Michigan."

Rep. Kate Segal (D) said:

"Marriage is about protecting our families. All children deserve security and stability at home, and all couples who are in a loving and committed relationship deserve the same legal protections that my husband and I enjoy. Marriage equality is a step forward that will have an incredibly positive impact on countless Michigan children and strengthen all of our families."

Rep. Sam Singh (D) said:

"My colleagues and I believe that Michigan cannot wait any longer to recognize marriage equality and allow all people the equal rights and benefits that married couples currently enjoy. ... There is clear momentum across the country on this issue.  Michigan cannot afford to lag behind as other states open their doors to all families.  We need to attract the best and the brightest, and that means welcoming everyone.  It is hard to encourage talented people and their families to move and work in Michigan when they're denied the ability to take care of each other."

Emily Dievendorf, managing director of Equality Michigan -- the main LGBT civil rights group in Michigan -- said:

"Equality Michigan is proud to be working with Michigan's elected leaders to advance recognition of committed and loving same-gender relationships. The Democratic leaders who will introduce these marriage equality bills recognize the importance of Michigan standing on the right side of history in regards to the rights of our lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) citizens. Michigan's voters will no longer tolerate second-class treatment of LGBT families. Enough is enough, and Representatives Singh, Hobbs, Irwin, and Segal deserve credit for helping lead the charge." 3

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2013-JUN-28: Federal District Court judge declares new state Domestic Partnership Benefits law unconstitutional:

U.S. District Court Judge David M. Lawson declared Michigan's Public Act 297 unconstitutional. It banned domestic partner benefits for all public employees in the state. Cities, counties and other public employers were prevented from offering benefits to same-gender partners of their employees. Judge Lawson found it violated the Equal Protection Clause of the US Constitution and would unequally burden same-gendered couples by denying them the same benefits as their counterparts in opposite-gender relationships.

The American Civil Liberties Association of Michigan was the lead group in this lawsuit.

Emily Dievendorf, the Managing Director of Equality Michigan said:

"Equality Michigan is overjoyed by Judge Lawson's ruling. In order to attract the best and brightest talent to Michigan, we need to make sure all workers are treated equally. On the heels of the Supreme Court decisions advancing recognition of same-gender relationships, we believe that momentum towards equality and justice is on our side. This is a victory for all lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender families in Michigan who are working to provide stability for their families. 4

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This topic continues in Part 3

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References used:

The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.

  1. Joel Kurth, "Poll: Majority in Michigan now support gay marriage," Detroit News, 2013-MAY-14, at:
  2. "Press Room: Latest press information, EPIC-MRA, 2013-MAY-15. This is a PDF file that can be downloaded at:
  3. "State representatives to sponsor bills legalizing marriage equality," Equality Michigan, 2013-JUN-24, at:
  4. Gregory Varnum, "Federal judge strikes down Michigan's ban on domestic partnership benefits," Equality Michigan, 2013-JUN-28, at:

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Site navigation: Home > Homosexuality > Same-sex marriage > Menu > Michigan > here

Copyright © 2013 & 2014 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Initially posted: 2013-MAY-31
Latest update: 2014-FEB-22
Author: B.A. Robinson
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