Here we go. Thanks Pam Byrnes! Of course, it has to be our fine Ann Arbor area state reps who once again lead the way into the type of chaos and contention visited upon California until Proposition 8 was upheld…. It’s great to see our legislators working hard to stir up trouble and spend more of the state’s bountiful financial resources on stuff we don’t need…. Pam, this is settled law in Michigan, and the 30 or so other states where the voters have actually had the opportunity to vote on the subject. Please don’t re-open this can of worms….
Michigan lawmaker to launch initiative for same-sex marriage
By Dawson Bell
Free Press Lansing Bureau
A state lawmaker from Washtenaw County is set to announce Saturday at a gay rights rally in Lansing the launch of a long-shot effort to amend the Michigan Constitution to allow same sex couples to marry.
The proposed amendment would repeal the marriage amendment approved by voters in 2004 which reserved marriage exclusively for unions of one man and one woman, and replace it with specific authorization for gay and lesbian marriage rights, said Rep. Pam Byrnes, D-Chelsea.
Byrnes said today she was prompted to launch the initiative after seeing the results of a recent poll (first reported June 7 in the Free Press) that indicated Michigan voters have become more favorable to the idea of same sex unions since the marriage amendment was approved in ’04.
The poll showed considerable support for some gay-friendly policies, but less than a majority (46.5%) in favor of gay marriage. The ballot proposal endorsing traditional marriage was approved 58%-42%.
Byrnes said specific language for the proposed amendment was not yet available and she was unsure when it would be introduced in the Legislature. If supported by two-thirds majorities in both the state House and Senate, the amendment would go before Michigan voters in 2010.
Byrnes said meeting that threshold will require “a fight.” But Gary Glenn, president of the American Family Association of Michigan who worked to pass the 2004 marriage amendment, called her effort entirely symbolic.
Byrnes and other “House liberals” need to demonstrate their appreciation for the campaign donations the House Democratic caucus received from Kalamazoo philanthropist and gay activist Jon Stryker, Glenn said. But her resolution is unlikely even to come up for a vote in the House, much less be approved, he said.
“In the unlikely event it ever does come up for a vote, it’s doubtful that even a simple majority of the House would vote in favor of overturning so recent a vote of the people,” Glenn said. “It certainly will not get the two-thirds.”
Byrnes’ announcement is slated to be part of the Michigan Pride rally at the Capitol beginning about 1 p.m.
Well, she finally did it! Nearly five months after she told the Free Press she would – and one day after the General Election – Washtenaw County Rep. Pam Byrnes finally got her courage up and formally began her quixotic quest to overturn a vote of the people through a new gay marriage initiative in Michigan. Here are the details from the Detroit News:
“I know it’s going to be a struggle,” she said. “(But) we have seen some very significant changes in a short period of time; the ordinance in Kalamazoo is an indication.
“If (people) have a gay daughter or son, they think they should be able to enter into a committed relationship,” Byrnes said. “We’re going to keep pushing this until we have enough votes to do it.”
Byrnes’ plan amends Michigan’s Constitution to repeal the Proposal 2 same-sex marriage ban and allows Michigan to recognize same-sex marriages from other states. She also plans to introduce legislation that would permit same-sex marriages. The legislation contains a religious exemption to allow clergy the right to refuse performing or certifying same-sex marriages.
Proposal 2 was supported by a broad coalition that included the Michigan Catholic Conference and other religious groups. Dave Maluchnik, director of communications with the Michigan Catholic Conference, noted the Kalamazoo vote had nothing to do with gay marriage.
Maluchnik disagreed with the notion that what happened in Kalamazoo reflects a change in public sentiment on the same-sex marriage issue. He said he doesn’t think the initiative to get the issue back on the ballot will gain traction in the state, but if it does the Michigan Catholic Conference will oppose it.
“We’ve made our position on the issue of marriage loud and clear and will continue to do so,” Maluchnik said. “Michigan voters are concerned right now about the state’s economy and anything that (distracts) the Legislature from that issue is not in Michigan’s best interest.”