Michigan House votes down discrimination

By |2004-03-11T09:00:00-05:00March 11th, 2004|Uncategorized|

LANSING – Supporters of the anti-gay marriage amendment to the Michigan Constitution failed to get the 73 votes in the House of Representatives necessary to pass the resolution.
The Michigan House of Representatives voted on Tuesday, March 9 on House Joint Resolution U (HJR-U) which sought to put the issue of marriages for same-sex couples in Michigan on the Nov. 2004 ballot. The vote was 65 in favor of and 38 against the resolution which was eight votes shy of the two-thirds majority needed to pass HJR-U. Had it passed it would have then gone to the Michigan Senate for a vote. In order to put the issue on the Nov. ballot it would have had to pass both the House and the Senate by a two-thirds majority.
Chris Swope, executive director of Michigan Equality, said that the Senate is unlikely to take the issue up and that the House was also unlikely to revisit the issue in the near future.
Jay Kaplan of the American Civil Liberties Union’s LGBT Project was happy with the outcome. “This resolution was neither compassionate nor conservative and would have written discrimination into the Constitution. The House did the right thing,” he said.
Penny Gardner, executive assistant at Michigan Equality said she was elated with the outcome. “I was proud that 38 of our representatives represented all of the people.”
Swope echoed Gardner’s sentiment. “It’s a tremendous day for Michigan,” he said. “This was a blatant move of discrimination and I’m glad it didn’t work.”
The lobby outside of the House chambers was crowded with hushed observers as representatives addressed their colleagues in the House. Rep. Leon Drolet, a Republican from Clinton Township, said he would not support the measure. He said that HJR U reminded him of the grade school game “smear the queer.” He also said the Feb. Family and Children Services Committee hearing on the marriage resolution was done in haste and he took the opportunity to publicly state the full name of P-FLAG as “Parents, Friends, and Family of Lesbian and Gays.” Committee Chair Lauren Hager (R – Port Huron) referred to the group as “Parents and Friends of da da da” at the hearing.
Other Representatives who spoke out against HJR-U included Chris Kolb (D – Ann Arbor), Alexander Lipsey (D – Kalamazoo), Julie Dennis (D – Muskegon) and Lorence Wenke (R – Richland).
Those representatives speaking in favor of the amendment all cited “activist judges” as the reason why HJR-U was necessary.
When the final vote tally was read LGBT people and allies outside the chambers erupted into applause and shouts and exchanged hugs. Sean Kosofsky, director of policy for the Triangle Foundation, had been at the Capitol since early that morning and smiled widely as the final vote was read.
In a Triangle press release issued immediately after the vote, Kosofsky said, “To have the vote behind us and to have been able to put down this attack on gays and lesbians is a great relief and makes for a great day in Michigan.”
After the vote the Rev. Mark Bidwell from MCC Detroit held up a sign that read, “Remember my face.” Although he was not allowed to display the sign in the gallery during the House session, he said he hoped that “Remember my face” would become a national slogan for LGBT rights. “We need to let people see our faces,” he said, “so it’s harder for them to deny us our rights.”

About the Author:

D'Anne Witkowski
D'Anne Witkowski is a writer living in Michigan with her wife and son. She has been writing about LGBTQ+ politics for nearly two decades. Follow her on Twitter @MamaDWitkowski.