Last Tuesday, by a vote of 6 to 0, the
state House Family and Children’s Services Committee approved
a proposed amendment to the Michigan Constitution. The amendment
would constitutionally limit the definition of marriage to that
between a man and a woman. Proponents argue that the amendment is
necessary in order to, in the words of state Rep. Lauren Hager
(R-Port Huron Twp.) preserve “marriage as it has been known
throughout the millennia.”

Laura Wong

In the past, constitutional amendments have typically served the
purpose of protecting and upholding the rights of citizens, not
curtailing them. With this in mind, the proposed amendment is
unusual and unfortunate. The proposal is nothing but another effort
by lawmakers to send a moral message to constituents, and is a
morally corrupt and an unfair assault on the gay community.

In addition to banning gay marriage, the amendment would extend
to civil unions, jeopardizing gay couples’ ability to receive
the benefits of marriage, such as tax and healthcare breaks. By
eliminating the possibility of civil unions, as well as marriage
itself, the state is sending a clear message of intolerance toward
the gay community.

In the wake of well publicized court cases in California and
Massachusetts, gay marriage is currently on the frontburner of both
the state and national political debates. It is clear from the
nature of the dialogue that many Americans remain uncomfortable
with the idea the homosexual community receiving equal treatment,
especially with respect to the issue of marriage.

While this is perhaps to be expected, it is truly unfortunate,
however, that this lack of sensitivity and understanding should
extend to the upper echelons of state government. Recently however,
politicians also find themselves making comments in reference to
gays that are degrading and offensive. In support of the amendment,
state Sen. Alan Cropsey (R-DeWitt) commented that “a
monogamous homosexual relationship is almost unheard of in the gay
lifestyle.”

This statement is morally and factually unjustifiable.
Statements such as this, from prominent members of the state
Legislature, make intelligent debate on these controversial issues
impossible. Without such dialogue, decisions pertaining to gay
rights will continue to be biased and misinformed.

This proposed amendment is not merely a piece of legislation for
conservative legislators to prove their moralistic credentials to
their constituents. Instituting a constitutional amendment
effectually condemning the legitimacy of homosexual relationships
poses an extreme threat to civil rights and an alarming tendency to
alter a constitution on a political whim.

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