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.
“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.