Bills aim to make Michigan 38th state to recognize same-sex marriage

LANSING – A group of Democratic state lawmakers introduced a package of bills today that would make Michigan the 38th state to recognize same-sex marriages. State Representative Jeremy Moss (D-Southfield) and state Senator Rebekah Warren (D-Ann Arbor) introduced resolutions that would place a repeal of Michigan’s constitutional ban on same-sex marriage before the voters. Additionally, state Representatives Jeff Irwin (D-Ann Arbor) and Adam Zemke (D-Ann Arbor), and state Senator Curtis Hertel (D-East Lansing), introduced legislation to allow same-sex marriage and recognize same-sex marriages performed in other states. The bills are being introduced as more than 300 same-sex couples prepare to celebrate their one-year anniversary. Last March, a federal judge ruled Michigan’s ban on same-sex marriage violates the United States Constitution.

“It is long past time to end state-sponsored discrimination in Michigan and to stop treating same-sex couples and their children as second-class citizens,” Irwin said. “Thirty-seven other states already have marriage equality, yet Gov. Snyder and Attorney General Bill Schuette continue to waste taxpayer dollars fighting at the U.S. Supreme Court to deprive these families of their Constitutional rights.”

House Democratic Floor Leader Sam Singh (D-East Lansing) sponsored a bill allowing married same-sex couples to file state taxes jointly. State Representative Robert Wittenberg (D-Oak Park) sponsored legislation concerning the filing of certain marriage licenses.

“When you make same-sex marriage legal, and you recognize the marriage of other couples from across the United States, you send a message,” Zemke added. “That message is that Michigan is a welcoming state. Nothing is more crucial than making sure all Michiganders are valued here.”

Currently, Michigan bans same-sex marriage both in statute and by constitutional amendment, and that ban has been challenged in the federal courts. Last March, District Judge Bernard Friedman ruled Michigan’s ban on same-sex marriage unconstitutional, allowing a brief window in which more than 300 couples married in Michigan before the 6th Circuit stayed the decision. In February of this year, the state was ordered to recognize those marriages as legal. The Supreme Court will hear arguments in the DeBoer v. Snyder case on April 28, with a decision expected in June.

“Right now, citizens in 37 states and Washington, D.C., have the freedom to marry the person they love, while couples in Michigan continue to be denied basic protections under our outdated ban,” said Warren. “Morally, legally and economically, we can no longer afford to lag behind as other states open their doors to all families. We are very hopeful that the U.S. Supreme Court will issue a ruling that stands on the right side of history, but in the meantime, we must continue to raise this issue at the state level and fight to move this legislation forward.”

The legislators were joined by Glenna DeJong and Marsha Caspar, the first legally married same-sex couple in Michigan. They were wed in Ingham County last year when a federal judge ruled the ban on same-sex marriage unconstitutional. A stay was issued soon after when Attorney General Bill Schuette appealed the decision.

“We’re members of a small, exclusive club of same-sex couples who were able to marry during a brief window on March 22, 2014, but we don’t want to be,” DeJong said. “We want to be members of an inclusive club that welcomes any same-sex couple who wishes to marry.”

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