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Mindful Gay Marriage Ruling Could be Unfavorable, Backers Eye Ballot Box: Patch Poll

Gay rights advocates say they’ll put a referendum on the 2016 ballot if courts turn back a lower court ruling declaring Michigan’s voter-backed ban on same-sex marriage unconstitutional.

Same-sex couples, some shown at the Oakland County Courthouse, are in a sort of legal limbo after the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals stayed a March ruling turning back a ban on gay marriage. (Photo: Getty/AFP, Bill Pugliano)
Same-sex couples, some shown at the Oakland County Courthouse, are in a sort of legal limbo after the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals stayed a March ruling turning back a ban on gay marriage. (Photo: Getty/AFP, Bill Pugliano)

One way or another, gay rights advocates think a legally recognized marriage should be a right afforded to Michigan’s same-sex couples.

If U.S. District Judge Bernard Friedman’s March ruling declaring the state’s voter-backed ban on gay marriage unconstitutional is turned back, Michigan voters could be asked in 1016 to overturn the ban, the Detroit Free Press reports.

Equality Michigan Executive Director Emily Dievendorf said Thursday the “road map to victory calls for work on two tracks.”

“If we don’t get a favorable ruling, we intend on overturning Michigan’s ban by ballot initiative in 2016,” Dievendorf said in a news release.

Equality Michigan says public opinion has shifted since 2004, when 58 percent of Michigan’s voters in that election approved a ballot measure defining marriage as between one man and one woman.

Michigan State University’s February 2014 State of the State Survey showed 54 percent of residents favored same-sex marriage. The survey, which had a margin of error of 3.1 percent, found that 36 percent of respondents opposed same-sex marriage and 10 percent were undecided.

In 2012, the same survey showed 55 percent support for gay marriage – a stark contrast to 2010 findings, when fewer than half, 48 percent, of respondents said they favored same-sex marriage.

MSU statistics professor Charles Ballard, the director of the survey, said at the time that the support for gay marriage has increased over the past two decades, both in Michigan and nationally.

“In Michigan, it appears that the period between 2010 and 2012 was the critical time when public opinion shifted most dramatically in favor of gay marriage,” Ballard said. “Since the results in 2012 and 2014 are fairly similar, these results suggest that the increase in support for gay marriage is a long-term phenomenon and not just a temporary one.”

Gay marriage advocates are counting on that with the current effort to put the issue on the ballot if subsequent rulings on Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette’s appeal of Friedman’s ruling are unfavorable to their cause.

ACLU of Michigan  and New York City-based Freedom to Marry are joining Equality Michigan in the campaign. Freedom to Marry

“Think of this as a presidential campaign, bringing this to the voters across the country,” the New York group’s state campaigns director, Richard Carlborn, said of the  Roadmap to Victory focus.

Some anecdotal evidence that opinions are shifting on the topic came at a news conference Thursday organized by the three groups pushing the voter education campaign. Two former state lawmakers, both Republicans, stood in solidarity with a same-sex couple who said they should be allowed to marry.

Former State Rep. Leon Drolet of Macomb Township was among three Republicans in the House to oppose the 2004 ban. He said his views then were “consistent with my principles that government should treat everybody equally, without regard to race, gender, ethnicity or sexual orientation,” Drolet said.

Chris Ward, who represented a district that included Brighton and MIlford from 2002-2008, said he is not gay, but believes “freedom does not stop in the bedroom.”

“My message to my friends in the Republican Party is, for those whose hearts have changed, this is not the time to be a bystander,” Ward said.

That raises the question:

  • Polls and surveys suggest public opinion has dramatically shifted since 2004, when Michigan voters passed a ballot measure defining marriage as between one man and one woman. Have your views changed? Take the poll and tell us what you think in the comments.

Related:

McGurk May 19, 2014 at 07:35 PM
Dale: "Bob, I’m with you;" Really? Hard to fathom, but your depravity and hate has reached a new low. Shame, Shame on you.
McGurk May 19, 2014 at 07:39 PM
Robert: When did you decide to be a heterosexual?
McGurk May 19, 2014 at 07:39 PM
Dale: When did you decide to be a heterosexual?
Dale Murrish May 20, 2014 at 05:39 PM
Sounds like your pseudonym is really abbreviated. It should be “Love All Who Agree With Me.” We hear your anger, but loudness does not make you correct in your interpretation of the U.S. Constitution. I (& many others) agree with Justice Scalia: http://troy.patch.com/groups/dale-murrishs-blog/p/liberty-declines-as-gay-marriage-train-leaves-station
Daffy Noodnicks May 20, 2014 at 06:07 PM
Because someone agrees with you does not make either of you right. As can be clearly seen in the comment sections to most of the blogs you write, Dale. 14/14 federal judges disagree with your interpretation of the constitution.

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