What does Massachusetts mean for Michigan?

By | 2013-03-11T09:00:00-05:00 March 11th, 2013|Uncategorized|

The Nov. 18 ruling by the Massachusetts Supreme Court that there is no constitutional basis for denying same-sex couples the right to marry was historic in the fight for same-sex marriage rights in this country. Though the fight is far from over, the ruling was a beacon of hope (albeit guarded) for same-sex couples throughout the country, especially in states like Michigan that are already seeing a right-wing offensive against equal rights for LGBT people.
Michigan Senator Alan Cropsey is currently pushing to amend the constitution to define marriage as between one man and one woman as well as deny same-sex couples any protection or recognition on any legal level. He is determined to get the amendment proposal before the voters Nov. 4. Throughout the state we have seen local governments drafting anti-gay marriage amendments in support of Cropsey’s amendment. City Councils in Troy, Sterling Heights, and Utica have all passed these measures. Counties including Oakland, Monroe, Macomb, Jackson, and Lapeer have also passed similar resolutions. Although the resolutions carry no weight, they are an ominous warning of the battle to come a year from now.
Jay Kaplan, attorney for ACLU of Michigan’s GLBT Law Project, had not had a chance to read the ruling by press time, but he did indicate that he was happy with the results, even though the court stopped short of legalizing same-sex marriage outright. “This is similar to the Vermont decision which resulted in civil unions,” he said. The court gave the Massachusetts lesgislature 180 days to come up with the final solution.
Beth Bashert of the Coalition for A Fair Michigan called the ruling, “very exciting.” CFFM formed to combat the anti-gay marriage amendment push in Michigan. “We are once again pleased that the Supreme courts are continuing to see that gay couples and families deserve the support of the court system and the laws of this country,” she said. It is a direction she would like to see Michigan take. “We certainly hope that MI will move in this direction and the cruel amendment proposed by Senator Alan Cropsey will be seen for what it is.” With this ruling, she hoped that Cropsey and his supporters would see the anti-gay marriage movement as a losing proposition.
CFFM is currently working to pull the necessary resources together to mount a campaign against the marriage amendment in Nov. Bashert said they are hoping to combat the misinformation she is sure the other side will present due to experience with past campaigns.
Jeff Montgomery, Executive Director of the Triangle Foundation shared many of Bashert’s sentiments the day of the ruling. “Obviously this is a really exciting day and one that’s been anticipated for months now and I think that, first of all, in itself the decision the court came down with many of us knew was the only logical one, but it’s great to see it affirmed now.”
Montgomery said that the court’s finding that the state had failed to identify any constitutional grounds to prevent same-sex couples from getting married illustrated the entire fight against equal rights for LGBT people. “I think it sums up the whole argument. There is no adequate reason to deny this and the courts made it clear,” he said. “People who look at this issue dispassionately and deliberate over this come to the same conclusion time and time again and the decision is: it’s time to put an end to the second class citizenship for gay and lesbian people in this country.”
In terms of what this means for Michigan, Montgomery maintains that it could work to both foster acceptance and support but also result in backlash. “On one hand it’s going to just fuel the extremist in their desperate drive to continue to downgrade gays and lesbians. It’s certainly going to be a big kick in the ass to those people and we may see them redouble their efforts and pick up even more steam with this. At the same time, I think what’s going to happen is the vast number of people in Michigan who are already supportive of our community are going to look at this and say, Its about time we moved forward and started treating our gay and lesbian neighbors and loved ones equally.”
In the long run, Montgomery remains optimistic. “Increasingly people who want to push forward these efforts to discriminate are going to be seen as more and more marginalized,” he said.

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