House, Senate Dems Introduce Legislation Seeking Marriage Equality

Bills aim to make Michigan 38th state to recognize same-sex marriage
Thursday, March 19, 2015

LANSING – A group of Democratic state lawmakers introduced a package of bills today that would make Michigan the 38th state to recognize same-sex marriages. State Representative Jeremy Moss (D-Southfield) and state Senator Rebekah Warren (D-Ann Arbor) introduced resolutions that would place a repeal of Michigan’s constitutional ban on same-sex marriage before the voters. The bills are being introduced as more than 300 same-sex couples prepare to celebrate their one year anniversary. Last March, a federal judge ruled Michigan’s ban on same-sex marriage violates the United States Constitution.

“A ban on same-sex marriage is a ban on equality, and it’s shameful that Michigan is still on the wrong side of history on this issue,” said state Rep. Jon Hoadley (D-Kalamazoo). “I’m proud to co-sponsor legislation that will advance equality for the LGBT community.”

Additionally, state Representatives Jeff Irwin (D-Ann Arbor) and Adam Zemke (D-Ann Arbor), and state Senator Curtis Hertel, Jr. (D-East Lansing), introduced legislation to allow same-sex marriage and recognizing same-sex marriages performed in other states. House Democratic Floor Leader Sam Singh (D-East Lansing) sponsored a bill allowing married same-sex to file state taxes jointly. State Representative Robert Wittenberg (D-Oak Park) sponsored legislation concerning the filing of certain marriage licenses.

“Every Michigan resident should be treated the same under the law,” said Sen. Hertel. “There is no excuse for discrimination or oppression. As federal ruling upon federal ruling have shown, it’s unconstitutional. While we await what we believe will be a favorable Supreme Court ruling, we should move to make Michigan a state that embraces equality, not one that hamstrings it.”

Currently, Michigan bans same-sex marriage both in statute and by constitutional amendment, that ban has been challenged in the federal courts. Last March, District Judge Bernard Friedman ruled Michigan’s ban on same-sex marriage unconstitutional, allowing a brief window in which more than 300 couples married in Michigan before the 6th Circuit stayed the decision. In February of this year, the state was ordered to recognize those marriages as legal. The Supreme Court will hear arguments in the DeBoer v. Snyder case on April 28, with a decision expected in June. 

“I believe that we should be taking positive steps to affirm Marriage Equality in Michigan. It’s unfortunate that Gov. Snyder and Attorney General Schuette have put up such resistance to the idea of equal treatment under the law that our case is now before the Supreme Court,” said Rep. Singh. “I think it’s important that we show the country that many of us in Michigan embrace Marriage Equality without being forced into action by the courts.”

The legislators were joined by Glenna DeJong and Marsha Caspar, the first legally married same-sex couple in Michigan. They were wed in Ingham County last year when a federal judge ruled the ban on same-sex marriage unconstitutional. A stay was issued soon after when Attorney General Bill Schuette appealed the decision.

“We're members of a small, exclusive club of same-sex couples who were able to marry during a brief window on March 22, 2014, but we don’t want to be,” DeJong said. “We want to be members of an inclusive club that welcomes any same-sex couple who wishes to marry.”