Appeals ruling delays this gay couple’s return to Michigan

My day started as it often does — hitting snooze a few too many times, feeding the dogs, packing lunch for my 4-year-old son, Lucas, dropping him off at school before putting in my time at the office. Yet, here I sit on the evening of the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals ruling upholding Michigan’s ban on same-sex marriage searching for the right word to describe the turn of events in an otherwise typical day.

Our evening activities likely were similar to many families — dinner together, a little playtime, watching a movie while snuggled on the couch. My son, without any prompting, chose one of his favorites, “Despicable Me.” What a fitting descriptor for how I feel about the court’s decision. How despicable that any loving family should feel forced to choose between living in fear and uncertainty, and living free from unjust laws that continue to cast them in the role of second-class citizen.

Until early this year, I was a lifelong resident of the Great Lakes State. I met my husband in Michigan, where we lived together near my immediate and extended family and close friends for more than a decade. We were homeowners, gainfully employed and civically engaged. When we expanded our family, we both were present in the delivery room as we welcomed our son into the world in Michigan. Yet, despite these similarities to thousands of other committed Michigan couples, the state considered us nothing more than roommates and only recognized one of us as our son’s legal parent. The other was relegated to the role of “other adult in household.”

My husband Diego and I, regrettably, felt forced to relocate to a more progressive state in order to protect ourselves and our son. We now reside in Minnesota, but Michigan still feels like home. I don't regret our decision to leave for more progressive pastures, but we are still homesick and heartsick at the news coming out of the Sixth Circuit.

The road to marriage equality for same-sex couples is often compared to the path blazed by interracial couples nearly 50 years ago. Once upon a time, Michigan was among progressive states in its early repeal of anti-miscegenation laws prohibiting mixed-race marriage. Whereas, even after the Supreme Court’s decision in Loving v Virginia made such laws unenforceable, a handful of states such as Alabama remained on the wrong side of history.

Alabama retained a provision in its state constitution prohibiting mixed-race marriage until as recently as the year 2000. How backward that now seems, and Alabama’s image continues to pay the price.

Regrettably, Michigan now joins Alabama on the wrong side of history in the inevitably march toward marriage equality for same-sex couples. While touting itself as America’s Comeback State, once-progressive Michigan is now among the handful of America’s Backward States historically steeped in bigotry and hatred. What a despicable shame. What a dark blemish that likely will linger for years to come.

I stand firm in my belief and hope that, like in the movie “Despicable Me,” there will be a happy ending for all families, including ones like mine. Committed couples and their children should be valued and respected no matter the gender of those who choose to share a lifetime together. We who imagine an inclusive future for all families must continue the fight for equality and inclusion no matter where we live. The sting of bigotry knows no borders.

I pray that someday soon Michigan’s moniker of “America’s Comeback State” will ring true for families like mine, and we can truly “come back” without the fear and uncertainty we now face. Until that day, we will commit our time and treasure to organizations like the Family Equality Council and Equality Michigan, whose dedicated team of advocates are at the forefront of changing hearts and minds and policy.

Until that day, my heart remains in Michigan while my family resides in Minnesota.

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Fri, 11/14/2014 - 4:44pm
This state has turned into a repressive one in the last 40 years. About that time a cousin from Ohio mentioned what a progressive state we had. I was so proud of my Michigan. Sadly, this is no longer true. After the last election I am beginning to feel that this will never change. My best to you and your family.
William C. Plumpe
Sat, 11/15/2014 - 12:22am
Fine. Stay in Minnesota. I'm really tired of the endless "we're poor victims" rant by gay marriage supporters and the attempts to unfairly paint gay marriage opponents as "haters" and radical right wing religious conservatives. All this is nothing more than a clever marketing scam. I am a well educated long time progressive Democrat who happens to be a practicing Catholic. For me because of my religious beliefs gay marriage is wrong because gay sex is unnatural, abnormal and immoral. My position is backed up by millions of years of biology and thousands of years of history, law and religion. For me gay marriage supporters come off sounding like spoiled two year olds who had a favorite toy taken away and are now throwing a tantrum to get it back. I am willing to decriminalize gay sex but that is not the same as giving gay sex the same value as heterosexual sex which gay sex does not have and never will because it can never naturally lead to the conception of children in a hopefully stable family environment. That is the inherit value in heterosexual marriage even if not every heterosexual marriage results in conception or a stable family environment. There is no possibility whatsoever for conception and birth of children to occur in a homosexual marriage unless there is outside intervention making the whole situation artificial and contrived. Seeing as that homosexual marriage has no proven inherit value to society there is no reason for society to promote such a social contract by legalizing gay marriage. Of course there is benefit to the participants but those participants only represent themselves and any claims of benefit to society are extremely self serving and highly suspect.
Sat, 11/15/2014 - 1:25pm
Mr Plumpe I feel that it is you who is doing the whining and groaning. I recognize your right to feel as you do about issues to which you do not agree, but even your own pope has indicated it is not our place to judge. Wanting to force your beliefs on others is neither Chistian, nor constitutional. I'm pretty tired of hearing so-called followers of Jesus using hate or judgmentalism to justify their need to control others. Don't like gay sex, then don't have sex with someone of your gender. Allowing others to live as they choose so long as they are not hurting others is a much better life lesson. I will take what they are teaching their child over what you and others with your attitude are teaching yours any day.
William C. Plumpe
Tue, 11/18/2014 - 3:24pm
I beg to differ. Gay marriage supporters are the ones ranting and raving and claiming "equality" when no established "right" is being taken away. Something is not a "human right" merely because it feels good and two people can do it. That is not equality but shameless hedonism disguised as equality. It has no connection to the general good of society--- it is only concerned with the individuals involved and their "rights" which come off as "the right to do anything I want because it feels good and I want to do it". Sorry but that is the attitude of a spoiled two year old not a adult. Nobody in society gets everything they want all the time. That is life and no legislation or judicial action will change that. Besides from a legal point of view gay marriage supporters have not met the burden of proof and conclusively demonstrated that gay marriage will be of any benefit to society. And current opinion polls which are highly suspect and the number of special needs kids adopted by gay couples which is blatantly self serving and an obvious marketing ploy are no proof of anything. Further, there is no evidence in biology or precedent in human history or law or religion for gay marriage. And I am a practicing Catholic and take offense at your interpretation of what the Pope has said. The Pope has only asked for compassion in regards to gay individuals. That is not the same by any means as legalizing and condoning gay marriage. In fact just recently the Pope has given the opinion that marriage should be defined as the union between a man and a woman. Finally the legal mishmash of death by a thousand judicial decisions which is the current strategy to advance the gay marriage agenda is certainly not in any way democratic. It is subversive, underhanded and manipulative. It smacks of the totalitarianism in Russia and North Korea an attempt by the political correctness police to rule by judicial caveat and imperial decree. If gay marriage really has such widespread support as backers claim then winning a national vote on the issue shouldn't be a problem. I think SCOTUS should direct the Executive Branch of the Federal government of the United States to begin at once preparations for a national vote on the issue of gay marriage in the United States in the fall of 2015. Let's put the issue of gay marriage to a national vote---that would be the most democratic thing to do. I am willing to abide by the results of such a vote. What about you?
Liz Ennis
Mon, 11/17/2014 - 5:24pm
Mr, Plumpe, Aside from your less than factual diatribe against marriage for same sex couples, you are also misinformed about same sex marriage being good for society. A city and/or nation are enriched by the partners who participate in raising families, and childless married partners who pay taxes, contribute volunteer services, assume supportive roles in schools, provide leadership on civic boards, and live harmoniously within neighborhoods. You might reconsider your position on this fast moving societal transformation. Ease up, open up and come to terms with your fears. It's going to be OK!
Wed, 11/19/2014 - 11:31am
In order to debate William Plumpe, I'll quote him: 'Nobody in society gets everything they want all the time.' Which, William, applies to you. This isn't about you being 'willing to decriminalize gay sex,' (thanks, by the way, for that little nugget). This is about the application of equal rights to all Michiganders, regardless of sexual orientation. And because of the fact that you don't see these rights as universal says far, far more about your bigoted views towards gays, and your deep insecurities. Seriously, what's the problem?