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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, May 9 2014 - Volume 42 Issue 19
Michigan activists kick off 2016 ballot initiative
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Michigan activists kick off 2016 ballot initiative

by Mike Andrew - SGN Staff Writer

On May 8, a coalition of community activists, religious leaders, and other supporters of equal rights kicked off their campaign for a 2016 ballot initiative to legalize same-sex marriage in Michigan.

The initiative will be called Michigan for Marriage, organizers said.

Petition drives were launched simultaneously in Grand Rapids, Lansing, and the Metro Detroit area.

Recent polling suggests that public opinion has turned decisively towards equality. A February 2014 Michigan State University poll found that 54% of Michigan residents support allowing same-sex couples to marry, while 36% are opposed and 10% are unsure. The poll had a margin of error of 3 points.

Support for allowing same-sex couples to marry was highest among those 30 and younger at 68%, while 47% of respondents age 65 and older were supportive. The study also found that 59% also supported same-sex couples adopting children.

A ballot measure would directly challenge one of the claims made by Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette in his pleading to the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals defending the state's ban on same-sex marriage from a federal lawsuit.

Schuette told the court that 'respect for the dignity of these millions of voters [who passed the ban in 2004], who must be presumed to be decent and rational, should make courts reluctant to conclude that support for maintaining the definition of marriage is irrational.'

In March, U.S. District Judge Bernard Friedman struck down the state's constitutional ban on same-sex marriage. About 300 couples were married before the Sixth Circuit stayed Friedman's decision pending appeal.

U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder said on March 28 that the federal government would recognize the legality of those marriages, but Michigan Governor Rick Snyder said the state would not.

An April 2014 Public Policy Polling survey found that 49% of Michigan voters thought that the same-sex marriages performed in the state on March 22, 2014 should be recognized, while 44% thought they should not be recognized, and 7% were not sure.

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