Michigan Legislator Calls for Repeal of Gay Marriage Ban

This article is reprinted from the Michigan Messenger, as part of a partnership between RH Reality Check and the Center for Independent Media.

Following up on a June surprise, Michigan House Speaker Pro Tem Pam Byrnes
on Wednesday announced she had introduced legislation to roll back a
2004 constitutional amendment which bans same-sex marriage in the state.

Pam Byrnes

Pam Byrnes

a Democrat from Washtenaw County’s Lyndon Township, introduced a
package of bills which includes: a repeal of of the Constitutional
amendment, which will require a two-thirds vote of both chambers of the
legislature; a bill to explicitly legalize same-sex marriage in
Michigan; and a bill to remove state law restrictions which prevent
Michigan from recognizing same-sex marriages performed in another state.

“This really boils down to treating all people with the dignity and
respect everyone deserves,” she said. “So many of us were raised to
treat others how we’d like to be treated — it’s about time we start
actually doing that. Last time I checked the Golden Rule didn’t say
‘treat others how you’d like to be treated, unless they are gay or

Byrnes told Michigan Messenger in June, that she thought the time was right for the legislative move.

The time has come. … I think attitudes are changing. We
are seeing other states flip on this issue especially when you get the
former Vice President Dick Cheney acknowledging same-sex marriages then
I think we definitely see a change in attitude and it’s time to revisit

Byrnes’ proposal would require a two-thirds vote of approval from
both the House and the Senate in order to revise the state constitution
by putting a question on the ballot.

And electoral success in Michigan Tuesday might just support Byrnes’ June optimism.

Byrnes announcement on Wednesday came less than 24 hours after Kalamazoo voters overwhelmingly approved
an ordinance to prohibiting discrimination on the basis of, among other
things, sexual orientation and gender identity. Those same voters in
Kalamazoo voted openly gay resident Terry Kuseke to the city commission.

Voters in Detroit also sent openly gay former news man Charles Pugh to the president’s seat
on the Detroit City Council — making him the first openly gay council
member in the city’s history. Meanwhile, voters in Ferndale return
Michigan’s first openly gay mayor, Craig Covey, to the mayor’s seat

The issue of same-sex marriage itself had a mixed result nationally. Maine voters rejected a law which would allow same-sex couples to marry, while Washington state voters approved a ballot measure dubbed “everything but marriage.”
A year ago, as the nation celebrated the election of then-U.S. Sen.
Barack Obama to the White House, LGBT Americans were outraged to lose
the right to marry in California because an initiative there, called
Proposal 8, passed.

Byrnes was flanked by representatives from the American Civil Liberties Union of Michigan; Triangle Foundation, a Detroit-based LGBT rights group; Michigan Equality, a Lansing-based LGBT rights group; and from both organized labor and clergy.

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  • anonymous99

    Exactly which parts of marriage are gays and lesbians fighting for? The bitterness? Hatred? Violence? Abuse? Murder? Communist, I mean community property? Golddigging? Mooching? Divorce? Alimony? Lawyer enrichment? Servitude? This has to be the dumbest movement of all time. I hope you all fail miserably in this incredibly misguided effort. Why not really examine what civil marriage, and the government intrusion that comes with it, really is before you continue this "fight?" If you want equality why not try outlawing marriage? I would gladly join you in this effort and I promise you we could win this battle.

  • harry834

    Fighting for the freedom to marry is not the same as fighting to mandate marriage. However, the idea of outlawing marriage would take away choice.

    Every individual must be allowed to choose whether or not to marry. But I also believe that we should have other legal structures for the law to provide benefits to individuals and families whether or not their is a married couple in the picture. Check out Beyond Gay and Straight Marriage for more on this: http://beyondstraightandgaymarriage.blogspot.com/

    Also for how gender-neutral marriage laws (which is what the gay marriage fight is all about) may help weaken the gender-bias expectations that make hetero marriage oppressive, check out: http://gaytheists.org/?p=520

  • anonymous99

    "Every individual must be allowed to choose whether or not to marry."  Says whom?  Modern civil marriage is nothing more than a state-run welfare program.  Always has been.  Until people truly understand this fact they’ll continue to be frustrated by it.  Marriage is NOT designed to make people committed or loving or happy or anything of the kind.  It’s designed to simply use the heavy hand of Big Brother to transfer income from earners to non-earners.  That’s it.   To this end it’s been a great "success".  On the other hand it’s been a real disaster for people and their relationships.  It’s 2009 and time for the states to get out of people’s relationships and bedrooms completely.  Give marriage back to the religious institutions where it rightly belongs.

  • harry834

    does this mean you not only oppose civil marriage recognition, but also any type of legal family recognition?

    And does this mean you support taking a marriage liscense away from married couples without their consent?

  • harry834

    since you said, "until people understand this fact", that suggests you want people to change their views and then give up their liscence by their own choice. That may rebutt my second question in my last comment.

    But still, you’re assuming people can’t be happy in marriage and from this you assume no one should have marriage.

  • harry834

    like your against welfare and public funding for "non-earners" (ie people who need or could benefit)

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  • anonymous99

    I really think the government should remove itself from the business of personal relationships.  Not only do I think it’s completely unnecessary, it really is a violation of privacy.  It’s just simply not the government’s business to know who I’m living with, having sex with, starting a family with, etc. "does this mean you not only oppose civil marriage recognition, but also any type of legal family recognition?"  It’s not clear to me why people need or want the government to "recognize" their relationship or family in theory.  I do understand, however, the practical aspects of government family recognition for hospital visitation, inheritance, medical coverage, etc. (but I think all of this could be done privately)  I will call this type of recognition as a civil union and I believe all couples, straight or gay, should be treated alike under the law for this.  If gays and lesbians were merely looking for this type of recognition and equality not only would I support it, but I firmly believe the gay and lesbian community could already have this wrapped up in all 50 states had they chosen this path. What gays are trying so hard to get is marriage.  As I mentioned before this is the most misguided cause I’ve ever seen.  For government-sponsored civil marriage is nothing more than a welfare system.  Sure, civil marriage does grant a "civil union" status to couples as I described above.  But this aspect of marriage is dwarfed by the welfare aspect. "your against welfare and public funding for "non-earners"  I’m not opposed to public welfare.  What I am opposed to is the indentured servitude of one person to another.  Community property, alimony, child support (which is really alimony), etc. are all a kin to slavery, debt prisons, peonage, and the like which have all been outlawed in this country for some time.