Proponents of a constitutional same-sex
marriage ban, after failing to muster sufficient support in the
Michigan State Legislature, began a petition drive to place the
issue on November’s ballot. Led by Citizens for the
Protection of Marriage, this petition was required to have almost
318,000 signatures to be successful; as of last weekend the group
had over 324,000. Yesterday, the Secretary of State’s Bureau
of Elections opened for the sole purpose of accepting these
petitions. If certified, the state’s general public will be
able to enact a discriminatory, regressive amendment that was
clearly defeated by the legislative process.

Janna Hutz

Currently, gay marriage is already against Michigan law, however
the state constitution has no provision against it. Traditionally,
to amend the constitution, the proposed amendment must garner
super-majorities in both houses of the state Legislature and then
receive the public’s endorsement in a general election. This
past March, state Senator Alan Cropsey (R-DeWitt) sponsored such an
amendment, but it failed to gain the two-thirds majority needed in
order to pass. The end result: The direct initiative, sponsored by
Citizens for the Protection of Marriage and supported by a small
fraction of the state, is able to completely bypass state Senate, a
body representative of all Michigan citizens.

Merely 318,000 petitioners rendered the state Senate impotent. A
similar instance occurred just a few weeks ago when 318,000
citizens were able to present a bill, banning a type of
partial-birth abortion, to the state Legislature that could not be
vetoed by the Gov. Jennifer Granholm — rendering the
state’s popular chief executive powerless. The intricate
representative democracy spelled out by the state constitution, as
well as the system of checks and balances designed to protect the
state’s citizens, is unnecessarily undermined by this ballot
initiative.

Ballot initiatives intrude upon the rights of the minority,
subjecting their rights to the overwhelming majority. Only 318,000
citizens, a mere percentage of the population, are needed in order
to get an issue put onto the ballot. This empowering of select
individuals is only exacerbated by the fact that it takes enormous
financial means to enable such an expensive process as launching a
ballot initiative. Ballot initiatives, although well intentioned,
only work to silence the many while placating to the opinions of a
well funded few. These initiatives also become problematic due to
the use of unclear and misleading language that can confuse some
everyday citizens who are not adequately informed in the nuances of
legal phrasing.

Protecting marriage for the heterosexual majority, while
depriving the right to the homosexual minority is discriminatory
and superfluous. Because Citizens for the Protection of Marriage
has already collected the required number of signatures, the bill
will most likely appear on the ballot in November. It will allow
Michigan citizens to vote for anti-homosexual legislation. It is
important to remember that the fate of this bigoted bill will rest
with Michigan voters and citizens should use their ballots to
reject this attempt to circumvent the democratic process.

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