Michigan marriage amendment

Published 7:45 am Tuesday, March 9, 2004

By By JAMES COLLINS / Niles Daily Star
NILES -- With the same-sex marriage controversy sweeping the nation, the Michigan House of Representatives is expected to vote this week on whether to put the issue on next election's ballot.
The proposed amendment would deny gay and lesbian individuals the right to marry and the right to engage in any legally equivalent relationship.
While there are presently statutes in Michigan that deny gay and lesbian individuals the right to marry, the proposed amendment would add this ban to the state constitution.
Michigan State Sen. Ron Jelinek, R-Three Oaks, backs the proposed amendment because he thinks people should have the right to decide how they feel on the issue.
Jelinek said he thinks marriage is something that should remain between two members of the opposite sex.
Michigan State Rep. Neal Nitz, R-Baroda, said he will also support the amendment.
He agrees it is an important issue that should be decided by the people of Michigan and not by state representatives.
Nitz does not have a problem with people of the same sex living together, but does have a problem with same sex couples receiving the same insurance benefits and tax credits as other married couples.
He said he will vote in favor of the amendment and thinks a majority of people in Southwest Michigan feel the same way.
Niles City Administrator Terry Eull said he would not be surprised if the amendment shows up on the ballot next election.
Eull does not see a problem with the issue going to a vote and letting the people of Michigan decide how they feel on same sex marriages.
In January, the Cass County Board of Commissioners held a vote to determine whether the county favors a statewide election on the issue. The commissioners voted 14 to 1 in favor of the amendment.
Commissioner David Taylor, D-Edwardsburg, was the only one to vote against the recommendation.
Taylor, who has been married to his wife for 32 years, said he is "absolutely against the amendment."
He said it is a "thorny issue" that the state should not get involved with. Taylor does not see any reason why we should make a decision that "would tie the hands of the Michigan legislature behind their backs."
He thinks it is best to just let the issue play out. He said it is going to be a long process that will take years, but eventually he thinks same sex marriages will be legal.
He pointed to the fact that 50 years ago it was illegal for people of different races to get married and 100 years ago it was illegal for people of different religions to get married.
There is also a similar amendment being proposed on the national level that would ban same sex marriages across the country.
Congressman Fred Upton (R-St. Joseph) gave this reaction in a statement released on Monday.