Bills would amend dozens of discriminatory laws
LANSING—A large group of Democratic state representatives led by Democratic Floor Leader Yousef Rabhi (D-Ann Arbor) today introduced a comprehensive legislative package to repeal Michigan’s unconstitutional bans on same-sex marriage and ensure that references to spouses are inclusive throughout the state’s legal code. Forty Democratic representatives have joined Rep. Rabhi to sponsor bills in the package: Democratic Leader Donna Lasinski; Reps. Aiyash, Anthony, Bolden, Brabec, Breen, Brixie, B. Carter, T. Carter, Cavanagh, Cherry, Clemente, Ellison, Garza, Haadsma, Hertel, Hood, Hope, C.A. Johnson, Koleszar, Kuppa, LaGrand, Morse, Neeley, O’Neal, Pohutsky, Puri, Rogers, Scott, Sneller, Sowerby, Steckloff, Stone, Tate, Thanedar, Weiss, Whitsett, Witwer, Yancey, and Young.
“The United States Constitution says same-sex couples and their families deserve to be treated fairly, but Michigan’s laws still don’t reflect that,” Rep. Rabhi said. “By removing discriminatory language from our laws, we are showing that we as a state value LGBTQ+ people, and that we intend to live up to the ideals of equality and justice.”
In 2015, the US Supreme Court ruled that same-sex couples have the right to marry under the Constitution’s guarantees of equal protection and due process. However, the unenforceable remnants of discriminatory marriage laws are still on the books. In addition to Michigan’s multiple explicit bans on same-sex marriage, gender-specific references to married people permeate state law— for example, referring to joint tax returns filed by “a husband and wife” or stating that “a husband” cannot be called to testify against “his wife” without her consent. The legislation introduced Wednesday comprises a joint resolution and 54 bills, because Michigan’s constitution requires a separate bill to amend each act.
The 54 bills in the package, House Bills 5191-5243, would amend discriminatory references to spouses and parents in laws ranging from the Divorce Act to the State Potato Industry Commission Act. They would also repeal direct bans on same-sex marriage codified in three acts. House Joint Resolution J would put a question on the ballot to repeal the same-sex marriage ban in the state constitution. The changes were recommended by the Michigan Law Revision Commission to bring Michigan into compliance with the US Constitution following the US Supreme Court ruling in Obergefell v Hodges six years ago.