Michigan Democrats introduce bills to advance recognition of gay unions


Staff Reports

LANSING, Mich. — Minority Democrats in the Michigan state Senate on Wednesday proposed four pieces of legislation aimed at repealing the state’s ban on same-sex marriage and advancing recognition of legal unions between gay and lesbian couples.

Michigan Senate Joint Resolution W, introduced by Sentor Rebekah Warren (D-Washtenaw), would amend the Michigan Constitution to remove a 2004 prohibition on same-sex marriage.

The measure needs two-thirds support in the Republican-led House and Senate to make the statewide ballot.

Senate Resolution 64, introduced by Senator Bert Johnson (D-Wayne), calls on the federal government to repeal their Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA).

Senate Bill 405, introduced by Senator Gretchen Whitmer (D-Ingham), would repeal legal limitations on same-gender relationships put in place prior to the 2004 constitutional ban, and Senate Bill 406, introduced by Senator Virgil Smith (D-Wayne), would recognize legal same-sex marriages performed outside the state.

Warren said recent polling shows more Michiganians support same-sex marriage than just a year ago. She said married couples enjoy a host of legal protections, and removing Michigan’s ban would ensure gay couples can be legal parents to their adoptive children.

Senators sponsoring the legislation are Warren, Minority Leader Gretchen Whitmer of East Lansing, Bert Johnson of Highland Park and Virgil Smith of Detroit.

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“Michigan State Senators Warren, Johnson, Whitmer and Smith understand that a growing number of voters demand an end to the second-class treatment that LGBT families receive from our government. With these four pieces of legislation, Michigan’s Senate Democratic elected officials have begun a conversation LGBT people have spent years preparing for and lifetimes suffering from the absence of,” said Emily Dievendorf, managing director of Equality Michigan, a statewide advocacy organization.

“Earlier this month, we saw that 56 percent of Michigan voters support legal recognition of loving and committed LGBT couples,” she said. “Now is the time for all sides to come together and discuss how Michigan can harness the economic and social gains other states are benefiting from as they end their government’s harmful policies towards LGBT families.”

Associated Press contributed to this report.

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