BY BTL STAFF
LANSING – A group of Democratic lawmakers from the state House and Senate introduced a package of bills March 19 that would recognize same-sex marriages in Michigan.
State Representative Jeremy Moss, D-Southfield, and state Senator Rebekah Warren, D-Ann Arbor, introduced resolutions that would place a repeal of Michigan’s 2004 voter-ban on same-sex marriage.
The bills are being introduced nearly one year after 323 same-sex couples were married in the state. That small window of opportunity followed Judge Bernard Friedman’s ruling in DeBoer v. Snyder which determined the state ban on same-sex marriage unconstitutional.
“Marriage is more than just two people declaring their commitment to each other before friends and family. It affects everything from their ability to buy car insurance together to their ability to visit a spouse in the hospital, and their legal standing as co-parents to their children,” Moss said. “For all these reasons and more, a majority of Michiganders now say it’s time for marriage equality in our state, and I’m proud to sponsor the legislation that would put a referendum to repeal our state’s same-sex marriage ban before voters.”
State Reps. Jeff Irwin, D-Ann Arbor, and Adam Zemke, D-Ann Arbor, and state Sen. Curtis Hertel, D-East Lansing, introduced legislation to allow same-sex marriage and recognize same-sex marriages performed in other states. House Democratic Floor Leader Sam Singh, D-East Lansing, sponsored a bill allowing married same-sex couples to file state taxes jointly. State Rep. Robert Wittenberg, D-Oak Park, sponsored legislation concerning the filing of certain marriage licenses.
“The state of Michigan must treat all of its citizens with dignity and respect,” Wittenberg said. “The time for policies of exclusion is over. It’s time now to make certain that Michigan is open and welcoming to everyone, which is why it’s time to make marriage equality a reality in our state.”
Glenna DeJong and Marsha Caspar, the first legally married same-sex couple in the state, joined the legislators for the official announcement of the package. Caspar and DeJong, accompanied by seven other couples married during the small window last year, had filed a lawsuit with the ACLU against Gov. Snyder claiming that they were legally married under state law and are entitled to protections and benefits provided to all legally married couples. In January, Judge Mark A. Goldsmith ruled in their favor. In February, the state was ordered to recognize those marriages as legal.
“We’re members of a small, exclusive club of same-sex couples who were able to marry during a brief window on March 22, 2014, but we don’t want to be,” DeJong said. “We want to be members of an inclusive club that welcomes any same-sex couple who wishes to marry.”
The U.S. Supreme Court will hear arguments in DeBoer v. Snyder in April with an expected decision on nationwide same-sex marriage by the end of June.
“As the U.S. Supreme Court weighs this decision, it’s important we take action to put Michigan on the right side of history. Should the court declare that marriage equality is the law of the land, the Michigan Legislature will need to clean up bad statutes and an unconstitutional provision of our state’s constitution,” Moss said. “We deserve to live in a state that values all of its citizens.”