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

Part 6:
2014-MAR: Public support & opposition to
2004 Constitution amendment to ban SSM.
DeBoer v. Snyder trial in District Court begins.

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This topic is continued from the previous essay

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The acronym "LGBT" used throughout this web site refers
to the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender community.

The acronym "SSM" refers to same-sex marriage.

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2004 to now: Public support for, and opposition to, Michigan's Constitutional Amendment to ban same-sex marriage:

In 2004, Section 25 of the Michigan Constitution was amended by voters to prohibit same-sex marriages, civil unions, and any other form of recognition of same-sex relationships. The amendment reads:

"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." 1

The Michigan Supreme Court has ruled that the amendment bans not only same-sex marriages but also civil unions, and domestic partnership benefits, and even including health insurance coverage.

Voters passed the amendment by a vote of 59% in favor to 41% opposed. National polls on same-sex marriages (SSM) in 2004 showed that opposition to SSM across the country was also 59%.

However, beliefs of voters have shifted remarkably over the past decade. As of 2013, national opposition to same-sex marriage is only about 40% and has been steadily declining for years. A telephone survey of 600 registered Michigan voters during 2013-MAY found that 55% of those sampled said that they favored replacing Section 25 of the Constitution with a new amendment that would allow same-sex marriage. The margin of error of this survey is ±4 percentage points. 2 Again, this level of support for marriage equality closely matches recent national surveys.

A 2014 poll, also of 600 registered voters in Michigan, shows that support for same-sex marriage continues to grow as it is has been doing across the country for two decades. The poll was conducted by the Glengariff Group for Equality Michigan between 2014-JAN-29 and FEB-01. It has a margin of error of ±4 percentage points. 3 The state poll found that among registered voters in the state:

  • 59% believe that the 2004 constitutional ban on same-sex marriage is unconstitutional.
  • 63% believe that Michigan should recognize valid same-sex marriages that have been solemnized in other states.
  • 56% believe that same-sex couples should be able to marry in Michigan.
    • 78% of "Strong Democrats" favor same-sex marriage in Michigan; 63% of "Strong Republicans" are opposed.
  • Opposition to same-sex marriage among all registered voters has dropped from 38% in 2013-MAY to 34% in 2014-FEB.

Emily Dievendorf, managing director of Equality Michigan said in 2014-FEB:

"Michigan voters know that the tide is turning for marriage equality across the nation, and they do not want to be living in a state that is considered behind the times. I sincerely hope that Judge Friedman will recognize this month what this poll shows our citizens already know, that Michigan's ban on same-sex marriages has to go. Equality Michigan looks forward to working with our coalition partners around the state to move toward equality and progress for ALL Michiganders by repealing that ban and finally bringing marriage equality to Michigan. The people have spoken and now we have to win this battle whether the route to equality is through the courts, the ballot box, or the state capitol." 4

With such strong belief among the public that the 2004 constitutional ban is unconstitutional and such strong support for same-sex marriage itself, if the 2004 constitutional amendment were voted upon today, it would almost certainly fail.

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2014-FEB: Trial before Judge Bernard Friedman of the federal District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan:

In recent years, the main argument being made by religious and social conservatives to justify their opposition to same-sex marriage was to claim that children need both a mother and a father in order to thrive. However, during the last week in 2014-FEB, the trial began with testimony from four academic witnesses for the plaintiffs who the Court accepted as experts. They cited many studies showing that children of same-sex couples fared no better or worse that children raised by opposite-sex couples.

The case put forward by the state against marriage equality began with what Reuters called a "rough start." 5 One reason was that two District Court judges, in Kentucky and Texas, had issued rulings during the previous week. Each had considered a constitutional ban on SSM that was essentially identical to that in Michigan. Both judges determined that the amendments to the state constitutions were void and unenforceable because they violated the equal protection clause of the 14th Amendment in the federal Constitution. This clause requires both the federal and state governments to treat people and couples equally.

Testifying as a defendant in the case was Lisa Brown, the clerk of Oakland County. She said that she was ready to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples if the court ruled in favor of marriage equality. She also testified that, last fall, Bill Schuette, Michigan's Attorney General, had sent a letter to her and to 81 other clerks across the state. It ordered them to not issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples, even if a federal court overturns the ban. They might then be faced with contempt of court charges. She said that she doesn't report to the Attorney General or any other state official. If a court ruled in favor of marriage equality, she would start providing licenses to both same-sex and opposite-sex couples. 6,7

The state's first witness dealt still another blow to the state's case. He was Sherif Girgis, the author of a book 8 promoting marriage inequality -- the limiting of marriage to one woman and one man. He was dismissed for lack of qualifications. Judge Friedman said that Girgis was lacking in accomplishments and thus could not be considered to be an expert witness. 5 Judge Friedman said:

"He’s very eloquent … but right now, all he is offering to us is mainly his opinions. The court does not believe ... that he should be allowed to testify." 9

The state's second witness was Mark Regnerus who, in 2012, published the results of his massive survey of parenting at the University of Texas. It is called the New Family Structures Study. Unlike all of the previous studies of same-sex parenting which involved small sample sizes, his study involved almost 3,000 American couples aged 18 to 39. He concluded that children raised by same-sex couples did not thrive as well as those raised by opposite-sex couples.

His study contradicted the conclusions of meta studies conducted by national professional medical, psychological and sociological groups. Each group studied multiple studies of parenting.

  • The American Academy of Pediatrics reported in 2013 that:

    "Over the past decade, 11 countries have recognized (same-sex) marriage. ... There has been no evidence that children in these countries have experienced difficulties as a result of these social changes." 7

  • The American Psychological Association said that there's no scientific data to show that same-sex couples are unfit parents. 7

  • The American Sociological Association submitted a brief with the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals in early 2014-MAR in support of plaintiffs who seek to marry in Utah and Oklahoma. The Association said that children thrive when raised in stable two-parent relationships with greater parental resources. Whether the parents are of the same or opposite sex is not a factor. 10 These results would support the concept of marriage equality, because allowing same-sex couples to marry would tend to make their relationship more stable, when compared to same-sex couples who were just living together and lacked the status of marriage and the recognition of their relationship by the state.

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This topic is continued in the next essay

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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. "Amendments that ban same-sex marriage, civil unions, and other contracts," Wikipedia, as on 2013-NOV-14, at: http://en.wikipedia.org/
  2. Jonathan Oosting, "Poll: Majority of Michigan voters support gay marriage, anti-discrimination protections," mLIVE, 2013-MAY-15, at: http://www.mlive.com/
  3. "Excerpt 1 from Michigan LGBT rights survey," Glengariff Group, 2014-FEB-02, at: http://www.equalitymi.org/
  4. Gregory Varnumm "Poll Shows Majority of Michigan Voters Support Marriage Equality and Consider Ban Unconstitutional," Equality Michigan, 2014-FEB-21, at: http://www.equalitymi.org/
  5. Rachel Jackson, "Michigan stumbles in court defending same-sex marriage ban," Reuters, 2014-MAR-03, at: http://www.reuters.com/
  6. Tresa Baidas, "Mich. gay marriage trial expert: Ideal family mom, dad," USA Today, 2014-MAR-03, at: http://www.usatoday.com/
  7. Tresa Baldas, "Oakland clerk: I'm ready with gay marriage licenses if court OKs it," Detroit Free Press, 2014-MAR-03, at: http://www.freep.com/
  8. book cover image This is the book probably referenced above: Sherif Girgis, Ryan Anderson & Robert George," What is marriage: Man and Woman: A Defense." Encounter Books, (2012). Read reviews or order this book safely from Amazon.com online book store Available in paperback for $10.11 plus shipping and Kindle formats for $8.63.
  9. Andy Towle, "As Mark Regnerus takes stand in MI gay marriage case, U-Texas calls his study 'fundamentally flawed'," Towleroad, 2014-MAR-04, at: http://www.towleroad.com/
  10. Brooke Adams, "Same-sex marriage bans are under heavy fire," Salt Lake Tribune, 2014-MAR-04, at: http://www.sltrib.com/an and Woman: A Defense." Encounter Books, (2012). Read reviews or order this book safely from Amazon.com online book store Available in paperback for $10.11 plus shipping and Kindle formats for $8.63.

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

Copyright © by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Initially posted: 2014-MAR-08
Latest update: 2014-MAR-08
Author: B.A. Robinson
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