Michigan Same-Sex Marriage Amendment (2016)

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The Michigan Same-Sex Marriage Amendment may appear on the November 8, 2016 ballot in Michigan as an initiated constitutional amendment. The measure, upon voter approval, would legalize same-sex marriage in Michigan.[1]

Supporters call the measure the Michigan for Marriage Initiative.[1]

The ballot measure campaign was started to overturn a previous measure, Proposal 2 of 2004. A favorable court ruling, however, would cause same-sex marriage proponents to end their initiative campaign.[2]

Background

In 2004, Michiganders approved Proposal 2, which defined marriage as the union of one man and one woman in the Michigan Constitution. On March 21, 2014, US District Judge Bernard Friedman overturned the initiated amendment. Friedman stated, "The court finds the (amendment) impermissibly discriminates against same-sex couples in violation of the Equal Protection Clause because the provision does not advance any conceivable state interest."[3] Approximately 300 same-sex marriages were performed before the judge's ruling was stayed the following day.[1] Michigan cited Schuette v. Coalition to Defend Affirmative Action, the US Supreme Court's decision on the state's affirmative action ban, as precedent for a judicial ruling on same-sex marriage banned via direct democracy and majoritarian rule. Michigan's brief quoted Justice Anthony Kennedy, who said, "It is demeaning to the democratic process to presume that the voters are not capable of deciding an issue of this sensitivity on decent and rational grounds... Freedom embraces the right, indeed the duty, to engage in a rational, civic discourse in order to determine how best to form a consensus to shape the destiny of the Nation and its people. These First Amendment dynamics would be disserved if this Court were to say that the question here at issue is beyond the capacity of the voters to debate and then to determine."[4]

Support

Michigan for Marriage 2016.png

Michigan for Marriage is leading the campaign in support of the initiative.[5]

Supporters

Former officials

Organizations

Arguments

Michigan for Marriage, the organization leading the initiative campaign, listed the following as arguments for same-sex marriage in Michigan:

Why Marriage Matters

Freedom means freedom for everyone.

  • Liberty and the right to pursue happiness are core American values.
  • We are all created equal under God with the same rights, responsibilities, and freedoms.
  • The freedom to marry the person you love is a basic freedom that should not be denied to anyone.If adults can pay taxes, vote, serve in the military, start a business – then we should not judge. We should grant them the freedom to marry the person they love.
  • The government should stay out of the private lives of adults, including gays and lesbians.

It’s as simple as the Golden Rule.

  • Michiganders are not the type of people to single out one group of people for unfair treatment by not letting them marry the person they love.
  • No one should be told it is illegal to marry the person they love. Allowing loving and committed gay and lesbian couples to marry would tell our children and grandchildren that in Michigan we believe in treating others as we would want to be treated ourselves.

Allowing marriage will boost our state’s economy and business competitiveness.

  • To be competitive, Michigan companies must attract and retain the best talent in the world. The state must demonstrate a commitment to diversity or risk losing top talent to other regions.
  • The muddled patchwork of the current laws creates uncertainty, inefficiency and waste for businesses. The freedom to marry saves companies money and reduces government spending.
  • A 2012 report from the Michigan Department of Civil Rights found that the state’s current discriminatory laws create negative social and economic effects on the entire population.

Marriage matters to gay and lesbian couples.

  • Gay and lesbian couples want to marry for similar reasons as anyone – to make a lifetime promise of commitment and responsibility to the person they love.
  • Marriage is one of the sacred moments in life when people make a public promise of love and responsibility for the one they love and ask their friends and family to hold them accountable.
  • Marriage upholds values as old as our nation: commitment to others, stability, responsibility and most importantly, family. Denying gay couples the freedom to marry weakens society by hurting our community, neighbors and families.

Allowing committed gay and lesbian couples to get married does not change the meaning of marriage.

  • All couples who marry in the United States must get a license for a civil marriage, usually at a courthouse or city hall. These civil marriages would also be available to same-sex couples.
  • Proposals to allow civil marriage for committed same-sex couples also protect clergy and religious institutions’ right to refuse to perform marriages inconsistent with their religious beliefs.

[6]

—Michigan for Marriage, [7]

Other arguments in favor of the amendment include:

  • Former Sen. Leon Drolet (R-11) argued, "I view this as being consistent with my principles that government should treat everybody equally, without regard to race, gender, ethnicity or sexual orientation."[2]

Opposition

Opponents

Arguments

  • Attorney General Bill Schuette (R) argued, "The voters’ decision to tie marriage to opposite sex couples, as it has been throughout all of human history, thus is not an act of bigotry or animus. It is a simple recognition that biology matters. Same-sex couples are not similarly situated to opposite-sex couples when it comes to producing children. Same-sex couples cannot produce a child unintentionally; they can only have a child through deliberate medical procedures that require the participation of at least one person (someone of the opposite sex) outside the couple. Promoting marriage for opposite-sex unions directly advances the State’s goal."[1]

Path to the ballot

See also: Laws governing the initiative process in Michigan

Michigan's signature requirements are tied to the total number of votes cast for the office of governor at the prior election. Michigan has a gubernatorial election in 2014. Therefore, the total number of signatures that initiative proponents will be required to collect for the 2016 ballot is equivalent to 10% of the total number of votes for governor in 2014.

Proponents will have 180 days from their approval for petition circulation to collect the signatures. The signatures will need to be filed at least 120 days before the 2016 general election.

See also

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