LANSING – The Michigan Court of Appeals ruled against the Board of Canvassers Sept. 3, assuring the anti-gay marriage amendment a place on the ballot in November.
The Board of Canvassers on Aug. 23 voted 2-2 along party lines, with Democrats voting to keep the marriage amendment off and Republicans voting to put it on the ballot. At issue for the Democrats was the actual language that would appear on the ballot, as the measure did not clearly state how far-reaching its impact would be.
In addition to putting the measure on the ballot, the Court of Appeals approved ballot language that the Coalition for a Fair Michigan calls confusing.
“The Court of Appeals had an opportunity to make sure the voters had a fair and accurate description of how this amendment will wipe out existing domestic partnership benefits, including those between a man and a woman,” said Wendy Howell, campaign manager for Coalition for a Fair Michigan. “Unfortunately, when voters read their ballot, they will read legalese meant to keep them from knowing that this amendment will take away health and pension benefits from Michigan families, including those of a man and a woman.”
In addition to being far-reaching, the amendment is also unnecessary. Marriage for same-sex couples is already against three Michigan laws.
Some proponents of the amendment are now denying that it would do anything other than define marriage. Chairwoman of the Citizens for the Protection of Marriage Marlene Elwell was quoted in the Detroit Free Press Sept. 4 saying, “This is saying marriage is between a man and a woman, a husband and a wife, period.”
However, other backers of the amendment, including Gary Glenn of the American Family Association of Michigan, have stated publicly that the amendment would ban civil unions and domestic partnerships.
According to Jay Kaplan, staff attorney for the ACLU of Michigan’s LGBT Project, Senator Alan Cropsey confirmed that the amendment would affect domestic partner benefits when he introduced the amendment in the legislature in September 2003.
“It’s too bad the Court of Appeals has allowed the backers of this amendment to use deceptive legalese to try to trick the voters into banning domestic partnerships,” said Howell. “By not clarifying the ballot language, the Court of Appeals has made it harder for voters to see what is hidden in this unnecessary and cynical amendment.”
Time to get the message out
The election is less than two months away, and The Coalition for a Fair Michigan needs your help to defeat the discriminatory marriage amendment. Talk to your friends, family, neighbors, and coworkers about the impact this amendment will have. To learn more about the amendment or to volunteer and contribute to CFM, contact them at www.coalitionforafairmichigan.org or at one of their three offices:
33523 8 Mile Road, Ste A3, PMB 181
Livonia, MI 48152
524 S. Walnut
Lansing, MI 48933
Ann Arbor Office
325 Braun Ct.
Ann Arbor, MI 48107