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Michigan LGBT advocates plan to put marriage equality on the ballot in 2016

Marriage equality

By Jacob CombsMichigan state seal

With polls showing that a majority of Michiganders supports equal marriage rights for same-sex couples, LGBT advocates in the state are mulling a ballot push to repeal the state’s constitutional ban on marriage equality.  The AP reports:

Gay rights activists plan a 2016 ballot drive to overturn the 2004 constitutional ban approved by voters. Democratic senators last week introduced legislation to put the gay marriage question to voters in 2014, but odds of it passing a Republican-controlled Legislature are slim.

“We want to go to the ballot, win and make it a sustainable win that is an indication of a climate change in Michigan,” said Emily Dievendorf, managing director of Equality Michigan, a statewide gay rights organization.

She estimated needing to raise $12 million for a ballot initiative in 2016, a presidential election year when the cause could be helped by higher Democratic voter turnout, particularly among young voters. The time until then will be used to raise funds for the signature gathering, push passage of bills prohibiting discrimination against gays and lesbians — supported by nearly seven in 10 voters — and educate the public.

As we reported in May, a new poll showing 56 percent support for marriage equality in Michigan demonstrated a dramatic shift in public opinion in the state:

Those numbers represent a remarkable increase–more than 12 percentage points–of public support for marriage equality in Michigan since last year, a shift that was attributable in large part by Republicans and independent voters changing their minds on marriage rights.  Support amongst Republicans increased more than 16 percent since last year, while independent voters’ support jumped by 14 percent.

We’ve written before about the fact that Michigan has some of the weakest LGBT rights laws in the nation: the state constitution bans both marriage equality and civil unions or domestic partnerships and joint adoption by same-sex couples is illegal.  Only government employees are protected from employment discrimination based on gender expression or sexual orientation, and Michigan was one of only 14 states with a sodomy law on the books when the U.S. Supreme Court ruled such statutes unconstitutional in 2003.

About a week and a half ago, we covered a press release from Equality Michigan regarding the introduction of four pieces of pro-LGBT legislation in the state legislature.  Three of the bills directly addressed marriage equality, while the fourth was a resolution calling for the repeal of the federal Defense of Marriage Act.  In addition to these legislative developments, a federal district court challenge to the state’s marriage ban and adoption laws is currently on hold pending the Supreme Court’s decision on the constitutionality of Prop 8 and DOMA.  That case is known as DeBoer v. Snyder.


  • 1. LGBT News! | Michigan LGB&hellip  |  June 10, 2013 at 10:19 am

    […] From:… […]

  • 2. Lucas  |  June 9, 2014 at 6:23 am

    Let's hope the Supreme Court does it's job in a couple of weeks so we don't have to wait this long.

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