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DRYDEN TOWNSHIP, Mich. – The Lapeer County Board of Commissioners voted 4 to 2, with one absent vote to pass a resolution against same-sex marriage September 18.
The resolution is one in a recent string of marriage resolutions passed in counties throughout the state and follows both Oakland and Jackson counties. The City Council of Sylvan Lake passed a similar measure September 10.
Though Oakland and Jackson’s resolutions made references to Michigan’s existing laws prohibiting same-sex marriage as well as President Bush’s feelings on the issue, Lapeer’s resolution, authored by Commissioner Ronald Dahlke (R-District 6) with the support of Commissioner Cheryl Clark (D-District 5), went a step further, using Biblical language as well as health statistics to promote the danger of a homosexuality. It also states that homosexuals are a danger to children.
Commissioner C. Ian Kempf (R-District 7) said that the issue of same sex marriage was introduced to the Commission by a resident of the county. Interest in the resolution was not strictly local, however. “It was asked that we vote in favor of it by the Lapeer County State Representative John Stahl. He was in favor of at least the original resolution,” said Kempf.
Kaplan suspects that the brush fire of local resolutions against same-sex marriage is being pushed from conservatives in the Michigan legislature to garner support for an amendment to the Michigan Constitution banning same-sex marriage. Legislation to ban same-sex marriage is being introduced this fall by Senator Alan Cropsey, R-DeWitt.
The resolution reads, in part:
“Whereas: Organizations such as the Center for Disease Control and the American Medical Association report that an overwhelming disproportionate number of cases of Aids [sic], Gonorrhea, Hepatitis A, and Hepatitis B are accounted for in homosexuals, and legalization of gay marriages opens the floodgate for adoption, foster-care, custody and childcare in which innocent children could be at risk.; and,
Whereas, That on October 4, 1982, in a joint resolution of both the Senate and the House of Representatives in the 97th Congress of the United States of America Public Law 97-280 was passed which reads as follows:
“Whereas, that renewing our knowledge of and faith in God through Holy Scriptures can strengthen us as a nation and as a people….The Bible, the Word of God, has made a unique contribution in shaping the United States as a distinctive and blessed nation….Deeply held religious convictions springing from the Holy Scriptures led to the early settlement of our Nation….Biblical teaching inspired concepts of civil rights government that are contained in our Declaration of Independence and the Constitution of the United States.”
The resolution goes on to cite the book of Genesis from the Bible as “God’s intentions for mankind in the institution of marriage.”
Sean Kosofsky, Director of Policy for the Triangle Foundation called the Lapeer resolution “outrageous.” The tone of the resolution did not sit well with Kosofky. “I have never seen a more vicious attack on GLBT people by an elected body in Michigan,” he said.
An alternate resolution was submitted at the meeting by Kempf. The resolution had the same goal as the original but did not include the religious language or the disease statistics. “I wanted to put a resolution together that the other commissioners could support and take the untruths and the Biblical references and some of the mean spiritedness out of the resolution,” he said. Kempf’s alternate resolution failed by a vote of 5 to 1.
Dahlke opposed Kempf’s resolution. “I was not happy with the alternate proposal. I believe that it was an attempt to gut the resolution of any reference to the Bible or God as they pertain to marriage. And I believe that both are very, very tied to and pertinent to the definition of marriage,” Dahlke said.
But Kempf found Dahlke’s resolution unacceptable. He said that the second paragraph, which included the disease statistics and the warnings about children, was particularly troubling to him. “In plain and simple terms I voted against the resolution because I thought there were some gross inaccuracies in the resolution and I did not see the need for the religious references,” he said.
Jay Kaplan, staff attorney for the ACLU of Michigan, called the Biblical references “inappropriate” and cited the separation of church and state. He also said that the second portion of the resolution is based largely on discredited medical studies.
Kaplan urged supporters of LGBT rights to get active and involved. “We can’t rely on one or two people in a county. Individuals really need to make an effort to speak out against these things,” he said.
To contact the members of the Lapeer County Commission go to http://www.county.lapeer.org/Admin/commission.html . You can also write to them care of County Complex Building; 255 Clay Street; Lapeer, Michigan 48446 or call 810-667-0366.