Even after the state House of Representatives voted against a
resolution that would effectively ban same-sex marriages in
Michigan, a citizen movement is still set on banning those unions.
The March 9 vote failed to mount a two-thirds majority by eight
votes, but the amendment could still be voted on in the November
election if a petition drive gathers enough signatures.

Citizens for the Protection of Marriage, a lobbying group in
Lansing this week began distributing petitions to place the
amendment on the Nov. 2 ballot. The group would need to collect
317,757 signatures by July 6, in which case the amendment would be
added to November’s ballot and, if passed, would be written
into the Constitution.

“I would be very disappointed if the citizens of Michigan
supported putting this on the constitution,” said Lorence
Wenke (R–Richland). “But I predict that, with the
petition drive, it will get on the ballot and it will
pass.”

Wenke was one of three Republicans who voted against the
resolution because he said it discriminates against homosexuals
instead of trying to protect the marriage institution.

Nebraska, Ohio, California and Georgia are thus far the only
states to legally ban same-sex marriages.

“We believe that this should be on the ballot, and people
should be deciding on the sanctity of marriage and not judges or
legislators here or Boston or anywhere,” said Gary Glenn,
president of the American Family Association of Michigan.
“We’re confident that, once it gets on the ballot, it
will be resolved. In the five states that have voted on
(restricting marriage), the lowest amount of support was in
California at 62 percent.”

Many members of the gay community plan to actively campaign
against the petition drive.

“We will fight it,” said Sean Kosofsky, policy
director for the Triangle Foundation. “My neighbors should
not be deciding if I have a family or not. It’s not
ethical.”

Although petitions started circulating earlier this week, the
state Board of Canvassers approved the wording of the petition on
Tuesday.

“The model for this petition will be like the
partial-birth abortion petition,” said Glenn, referring to
the procedure in which a fetus is partially pulled out of its
mother’s womb and terminated.

“People’s response so far has been overwhelming and
broad and many people not involved in the partial-birth abortion
drive are now involved,” Glenn added.

The federal government banned partial-birth abortions last
November, but Gov. Jennifer Granholm vetoed a similar ban passed in
Michigan.

Petitioners collected 325,000 signatures in less than two months
by means of a community-based campaign, lobbying to put the
abortion ban into effect.

Referring to the marriage petition, Wenke said, “I expect
churches to be very active in petitioning, and that’s a good
way to get petitions circulating.

“I don’t think (the Legislature) is planning another
vote, I think they’re probably just looking at the (petition)
initiative. Either way, they’re not talking to us.”

Wenke added that many members of the Legislature would have
supported allowing civil unions rather than limiting marriage to
“one man and one woman” and was unsure why a provision
for civil unions was not added to the proposed amendment.

The petition banning same-sex marriages joins a number of
petition-supported resolutions gathering signatures for the July 6
deadline.

These include legalizing marijuana, banning the death penalty
and the Michigan Civil Rights Initiative to ban race, gender and
legacy preferences in public hiring, contracting, and university
admissions.

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