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Michigan Lawmaker to Launch Effort to Amend Gay Marriage Constitutional Ban in Michigan

Michigan Lawmaker to Launch Effort to Amend Gay Marriage Constitutional Ban in Michigan

Undoubtedly we are experiencing an ever-growing trend towards acceptance of the LGBT community as citizens with equal rights. President Obama recently signed a presidential memorandum authorizing special benefits for same-sex partners of federal workers. He indicated that it was a means of ensuring "competitiveness" with the private sector for the countries' most talented professionals. Many LGBT members of society believe this is a pretense for what this new measure really is: a thank you for the gay community's support in the 2008 Presidential election. Whatever it is, it certainly sends a signal to the states that if anything, the government is becoming more accepting of gays, lesbians, transgenders and bisexual citizens. This trend arguably began in the '60s with the Civil Rights movement but no one can deny the impact of the US Supreme Court's decision decriminalizing homosexual sexual acts in Lawrence v Texas which overruled Bowers v Hardwick. The US Supreme Court in 2003 reversed the Court's ruling just 16 years earlier on due process grounds. Citing the 14th Amendment's Due Process Clause, the Court said in its 6-3 ruling that states cannot punish homosexual couples for engaging in sex acts that are legal for heterosexuals. Homosexual couples currently can marry in Massachusetts, Connecticut and Iowa and will be allowed to marry in Vermont starting in September 2009 and in New Hampshire from January 2010. Other states offer same-sex unions that grant many of the same rights as marriage. Forty-two U.S. states explicitly prohibit gay marriage, including 29 with constitutional amendments, according to Human Rights Campaign, a gay rights advocacy group. Michigan is one of them. However, public opinion in Michigan is slowly swaying towards the acceptance of gay marriage. Speaker Pro Tempore and Michigan House of Representative District 52 Pam Byrnes is set to announce at the 2009 Michigan Pride rally at the Capitol the launch of an effort to amend the Michigan Constitution to allow gay marriage. 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. Byrnes was motivated to launch this new initiative after seeing the results of a recent poll which was first reported June 7 in the Detroit Free Press which indicated Michigan voters have become more favorable to the idea of same sex unions since the marriage amendment was approved in 2004, states Pam Byrnes, D-Chelsea. The poll referenced by Byrnes showed considerable support for 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%, demonstrating more than 4% more support for gay-friendly initiatives today than in 2004.
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