DETROIT – Michigan State Senators today proposed four pieces of legislation that would advance recognition of same-gender marriages in the state. Three of the bills specifically address same-gender relationship recognition in Michigan. An additional resolution calls on the federal government to repeal the so-called Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), which restricts the federal government’s recognition of same-gender marriages.
Equality Michigan, the only statewide anti-violence and advocacy organization serving Michigan’s lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender communities, has been promoting such legislation since an amendment to the state’s constitution strictly forbidding same-gender relationship recognition was passed in 2004. The organization has pledged to work with elected officials to begin the process towards reversing the harm caused to LGBT families by such discriminatory laws.
“Michigan State Senators Warren, Johnson, Whitmer and Smith understand that a growing number of voters demand an end to the second-class treatment that LGBT families receive from our government. With these four pieces of legislation, Michigan’s Senate Democratic elected officials have begun a conversation LGBT people have spent years preparing for and lifetimes suffering from the absence of,” said Emily Dievendorf, managing director of Equality Michigan. She added, “earlier this month, we saw that 56% of Michigan voters support legal recognition of loving and committed LGBT couples. An increase of more than 10% over last year with most of that growth coming from Republicans and Independents. Now is the time for all sides to come together and discuss how Michigan can harness the economic and social gains other states are benefiting from as they end their government’s harmful policies towards LGBT families.”
Michigan Senate Joint Resolution W, introduced by Senator Rebekah Warren (D-Washtenaw), would allow Michigan voters to repeal the 2004 amendment to the state constitution banning same-gender relationship recognition by the government. Senate Resolution 64, introduced by Senator Bert Johnson (D-Wayne), calls on the federal government to repeal their Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). Senate Bill 405, introduced by Senator Gretchen Whitmer (D-Ingham), would repeal legal limitations on same-gender relationships put in place prior to the 2004 constitutional ban. Finally, Senate Bill 406, introduced by Senator Virgil Smith (D-Wayne), would recognize same-gender marriages occurring in states where such relationships are already legally recognized.
In addition to supporting the proposed legislation, the organization has been working on a long-term marriage equality strategy with national organizations, members of the Unity Michigan Coalition such as ACLU of Michigan and Affirmations of Ferndale, and local grassroots organizations like MI Love and Vote Equal. Equality Michigan continues the push to amend Michigan’s Elliott Larsen Civil Rights Act to include protections for the LGBT communities. Updates on the organization’s work are available on their website and blog: www.equalitymi.org.