This past week, a Michigan couple, April DeBoer and Jayne Rowse, challenged the state’s constitutional ban against gay marriage. The state government’s callousness toward gay rights must come to an end, as the state’s 2004 constitutional ban on gay marriage is outdated and discriminatory. Michigan must reform its marriage policies to treat same-sex couples equally and to ensure that the children of same-sex couples will be able to remain with their parents.
Currently, Michigan does not recognize same-sex marriages, meaning that same-sex couples are unable to share custody of independently adopted children. Therefore, neither DeBoer nor Rowse has custody over the other’s adopted children. In the event of a catastrophe involving one woman, Michigan law would not recognize the other parent’s custodianship of the first woman’s adopted children and could take the children away — arbitrarily and cruelly destroying a family.
The fight for same-sex marriage is only one of many movements that have emerged in the last few years that reflect the growing support for the LGBTQ community. In fact, in a recent Gallup poll, nine out of 10 Michigan residents already believed that there was existing legislation protecting individuals against discrimination based on sexuality. Popular support and relevance of the 2004 state constitutional amendment today is questionable, seeing that nine states legalized gay marriage in the past year, as opposed to the six that confirmed a ban. Three of the 17 states that permit civil unions were adopted by popular vote. Thirty-three states currently have constitutional amendments and state laws banning gay marriage. However, the anticipated statutes run counter to the majority opinion, as 59 percent of adults in the United States supported gay marriage according to a recent Washington Post-ABC News poll.
There are many progressive movements pushing Michigan to join other pro-equality states. Efforts that promote LGBTQ equality are rapidly coming to fruition. In Michigan, a petition with more than 1,000 signatures created the Royal Oak anti-discrimination clause in 2013. In the same year, Federal Judge David M. Lawson granted a preliminary injunction against a state law that bans domestic partners of employees of local Michigan government and school districts from receiving job benefits. On a national level, President Barack Obama’s administration is continuously working to extend marital rights to LGBTQ couples. The legalization of same-sex marriage in Michigan wouldn’t be groundbreaking, but rather an overdue ruling.
Though Assistant State Attorney Kristin Heyse has presented social research that reveals the advantages of both a mother and father figure in a child’s life, it does not imply that same-sex marriage households are detrimental or not sufficient. And there is no question that love and support from two parents is as good as, if not better than, those from one divorced parent. 58.6 percent of voters approved the 2004 ban, but that number is outdated and doesn’t reflect the views of today’s voters. As LGBTQ support is rising, the state government must take action along with it. Governor Rick Snyder should recognize that the ban on gay marriage is a prominent concern and work toward reform that accommodates the LGBTQ community’s demands and rights.