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Marriage Equality Battle Will Continue In Michigan Despite Setbacks

PHOTO: If the Supreme Court doesn't take up the issue before the 2016 elections, Michigan voters could get the chance to reverse the state's ban on same-sex marriage as a ballot initiative in 2016. Photo credit: Menstatic/Morguefile.
PHOTO: If the Supreme Court doesn't take up the issue before the 2016 elections, Michigan voters could get the chance to reverse the state's ban on same-sex marriage as a ballot initiative in 2016. Photo credit: Menstatic/Morguefile.
November 11, 2014

LANSING, Mich. - The battle for marriage equality suffered a blow when the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld same-sex marriage bans in Michigan and three other states, but supporters say the fight will go on.

Emily Dievendorf, executive director of Equality Michigan, says while Michigan voters put the state's 2004 ban on same-sex marriage in place, the tide of public opinion has shifted over the last decade.

"In poll after poll, the majority of Michiganders consistently poll in favor of marriage equality," she says. "Michigan citizens believe they made a mistake in 2004 and are ready to change that."

Dievendorf says while a Supreme Court review of the issue is likely, advocates have already begun the groundwork to put a reversal of the state's same-sex marriage ban on the 2016 ballot. In its decision, the appeals court wrote the issue should be decided by voters, not judges.

She remains confident marriage equality will eventually become a reality in Michigan, but says every day the ban continues, the state is losing out.

"There are a lot of families and LGBT couples in Michigan for whom that was their last straw," says Dievendorf. "A lot of people are talking about leaving Michigan now after losing in the Sixth Circuit, so we do have the challenge of some people feeling like they've been let down again."

Dievendorf hopes Michiganders who are frustrated with the ruling will channel their energy into action through the Michigan for Marriage website.

"We're asking people to tell their stories," says Dievendorf. "We're asking people to join and to volunteer, and we hope that by the time we start this ballot campaign the people of Michigan will know who we are, and that we've always been there - and that we're people that they already know and love."

On the same day the same-sex marriage bans in Michigan, Ohio, Kentucky, and Tennesse were upheld, a federal judge in Missouri struck down that state's prohibition of same-sex marriage. Legal experts believe the contradictory decisions will propel the issue to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Mona Shand, Public News Service - MI