Jay Kaplan, LGBT Project staff attorney
Just in time for Valentine’s Day, a historic gift to all who value equality, dignity and love. Better than a box of chocolates or a dozen roses!
On Feb. 8 a federal appeals court in California ruled that the state’s notorious ban on same-sex marriage is unconstitutional. This ruling overturns Proposition 8, a ballot initiative passed in 2008 that disappointed many.
After the passage of Prop. 8, the ACLU, Lambda Legal and the National Center for Lesbian Rights signed on to friend-of-the-court briefs in support of a legal challenge of the discriminatory ban.
In the latest decision, the court ruled that there was no legitimate reason to deprive same-sex couples of the formal right to marry and made it clear that the Constitution should decide who is afforded such privileges, not religious doctrines or the personal views of individuals. This affirms a lower court’s ruling.
As the head of the LGBT Project here in Michigan, I am so proud to be a part of this victory. The ACLU of Michigan is still deeply involved in work for equal marriage rights here in our state. Though it can seem like an uphill battle, with each ruling we know that we are on the side of the future.
Currently, 21 states and Washington D.C. recognize same-sex families, either through marriage or domestic partnership rights. Unfortunately, Michigan is among the states with the worst record for affording protections and benefits to LGBT couples.
Not only does our state have a ban on marriage equality, the law which protects against workplace discrimination doesn’t extend any protections based on sexual orientation and gender identity. That’s why we’ve joined the Don’t Change Yourself: Change The Law campaign to urge legislators to prevent Michiganders from being fired for being gay.
So what does today’s ruling in California mean to us in Michigan? It means that we cannot lose hope. We must continue to fight for our future and our loved ones. By forging ahead, we are creating a roadmap to marriage equality that will lead us to repeal Michigan’s ban on same-sex marriage and obtain civil rights protections for our community.
We all understand the desire to make a solemn commitment to our partners, to protect our families and be with the one we love. This Valentine’s Day, let’s hope that everyone will be afforded that right soon.