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President's Support for Gay Marriage No Help for Gay Michigan Widow

May 11, 2012

DETROIT – President Obama's support of same-sex marriage has a lot of Michiganders talking about the issue. Some see it as a step forward; others believe it's wrong.

Arthur Mullen, executive director of the Mount Clemens Downtown Development Authority, says he considers it an important issue because of what happened to a friend, Mark Dikowski. Mullen helped to organize a recent fundraiser for Dikowski, a man whose life he says was turned upside-down by the sudden loss of his partner.

"They had just bought a house together, pretty much their dream home. They were getting wallpaper delivered that they had ordered from England. Mark's partner passed away unexpectedly of a heart attack at 55."

That was two years ago, and because Michigan law does not support gay marriage or civil unions, and the family of Dikowski's partner doesn't either, he has been in and out of court trying to save his home. It is what Mullen calls "a horrible example" of the need for equal rights for committed couples.

"Here is a couple that lived together monogamously – in a loving, caring relationship – for 17 years. Mark has had very little time to really mourn Gary's death, because he's been in this limbo about property and where he's going to live."

By not having his name on the deed and not having any kind of legal arrangement, Dikowski is in a precarious situation, adds Mullen.

"So, now what's happening is, Mark is being forced to buy his house back from his brother-in-law."

With the deadline just a few days away, neighbors and friends have swarmed his shop, Ariel's Enchanted Garden, with business, in hopes of raising money and awareness of issues facing same-sex couples.

Such "cash mob" fund-raisers encourage groups of people to go into a local business and spend a lot of money, all at once, to give the owner a bit of an economic stimulus. Mullen says he hopes boosting business at the shop will help Dikowski to put his life back together again.

Mary Anne Meyers, Public News Service - MI