Monday, June 22, 2009

A call to amend Michigan's constitutional ban on same-sex marriage & "similar" civil unions: the limits of Wisconsin model of reform?

06/21/09 Lansing State Journal (source: ADF Alliance Alert)

In November 2004, Michigan voters approved Proposition 2, amending the state constitution (Art.I, Sec.25) to ban not only same-sex marriages, but also same-sex civil unions that are "similar" to marriage. The editors of the Lansing State Journal support a constitutional amendment to allow for domestic partnerships, citing evidence that voters would also support that change:

Prop 2 was sold as a protection against an extreme agenda. But it actually was the extreme measure because it strips the public from enacting moderate measures, such as civil unions that confer legal rights, without forcing religious organizations to endorse or perform ceremonies.

The Journal's editors appear to be unaware of proposals in Wisconsin's budget to confer domestic partner benefits, even though Wisconsin's constitution bans same-sex marriages and "substantially similar" civil unions. Michigan's ban on same-sex civil unions has ambiguous scope: how similar to marriage must such unions be to qualify for exclusion? Michigan's Attorney General has narrowly interpreted "similar" to prohibit the City of Kalamazoo's Domestic Partner Benefits Policy, because "the intent of the City is to accord same-sex partners the same health- and retirement-related benefits accorded to married spouses."

So Wisconsin's example does not appear ripe for Michigan to follow, unless a same-sex couple has grounds to challenge the Michigan AG's opinion.

At any rate, this editorial suggests a growing opportunity to chip away at "marriage protection amendments."

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