LANSING — Michigan residents Jessica McCormack and Danielle Root plan to makae their relationship official at a ceremony in May, but it will not be legally recognized because of the statewide adoption of Proposal 2 — which defines marriage as an institution between a man and a woman.

The marriage amendment was under fire yesterday in Lansing where legislators met for the first session of the year. At the same time a variety of civil rights groups gathered in front of the state Capitol Building to demand equal treatment under the law as well as protections and benefits for their families.

McCormack, Root and their 5-year-old daughter joined about 100 people in the “Protecting Our Families” rally sponsored by the University’s Stonewall Democrats — a group that focuses on promoting gay rights.

Joining them, Rep. Chris Kolb (D-Ann Arbor) said he would introduce new civil rights legislation to outlaw discrimination based on gender and sexuality.

“We’re truly affected by Proposal 2,” McCormack said, adding that straight couples don’t know how lucky they are to have the ability to legally marry.

“Too often we are represented by shows like ‘Will and Grace,’ but we’re much broader,” Kolb said, adding that he would introduce legislation to amend the Elliot-Larsen Act to outlaw lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender discrimination. The act is the state’s civil rights protection law and makes no mention of discrimination based on sexuality.

“We’re going to support the amendment to Elliot-Larsen,” Andrea Knittle, co-chair of the Stonewall Democrats said. “I feel very strongly that what’s happened after the election was a result of people not knowing a lot of LGBT people,” she added.

Knittle said the Stonewall Democrats would continue to educate people about LGBT affairs by using events like an art show and a campaign, composed of both straight and LGBT people, to continue pushing their goals.

The legislative agenda of the LGBT community to protect and help its families is much larger than amending the Elliot-Larsen Act. The LGBT community wants to have crimes against them classified and prosecuted as hate crimes. They also wish to repeal sodomy laws, allow gay couples to jointly adopt children and be able to extend their healthcare benefits to their spouses and children.

“We expect our families to be protected — yes, even in the face of the crude and shameful result of Proposal 2 — so that we can build families, adopt children and raise them in safety and with all the expectations that any family holds for its future and the future of their kids,” said Jeffrey Montgomery, executive director of the LGBT advocacy group the Triangle Foundation.

Some people in the LGBT community were optimistic about the future of their movement’s agenda because they believe the state’s citizens are more tolerant than ever.

“I think the more tolerant and fair minded people voted for Proposal 2 without understanding how extreme it was,” said Penny Gardner, program director of Michigan Equality, a LGBT advocacy group.


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