Michigan's gay marriage ban began in 2004

9:00 PM, Mar 26, 2013   |    comments
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GRAND RAPIDS (WZZM) -- While the gay marriage focus this week is on Washington and the Supreme Court, it's worth a look back at where things stand in Michigan.

In 2004, state lawmakers tried but failed to pass legislation defining marriage as between a man and a woman only. A petition drive put the issue before voters as Proposal 2. It defined marriage thusly: "To secure and preserve the benefits of marriage for our society and for future generations of children, the union of one man and one woman in marriage shall be the only agreement recognized as a marriage or similar union for any purpose."

By a nearly 59 percent margin, Michigan voters in 2004 agreed this language should be added to the state's constitution.

"Michigan and Utah and a couple others are the strongest against same sex marriage," says Cooley Law School professor Michael Dunn said.

Proposal 2 has faced challenges ever since its passage. State universities and some cities have offered health benefits to domestic partners of their employees. The Michigan Civil Service Commission in 2011 said domestic partners of state employees were eligible for health benefits.

This month, a federal judge in Detroit took up a challenge to Proposal 2, but decided to hold off on any ruling until after the U.S. Supreme Court rules. In that case, a lesbian couple, April DeBoer and Jayne Rowse, is seeking to jointly adopt children. The state argued that there "is no fundamental right to marry someone of the same sex."

"It's our position that the people of Michigan should decide this issue, not the federal courts," said Assistant Attorney General Joseph Potchen.

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