Are Michigan’s restrictions on gay and abortion rights holding state back?

For Kent Love-Ramirez, pulling up stakes from Michigan was both difficult and necessary. Difficult because he was a lifelong Michigander with a good job and family and friends nearby. Necessary, he and his partner Diego concluded, to take care of their family.

The Love-Ramirezes recently moved to Minnesota, where a new law allowing same-sex marriage was celebrated with gay pride flags flying on the temporarily renamed "Freedom to Marry Bridge" in St. Paul. The mayor of Minneapolis traveled to other Midwestern states to urge gay and lesbian couples in states with gay-marriage bans to come to his city to marry, or even to live.

Kent Love-Ramirez said he fully expects Michigan voters to eventually repeal a 9-year-old constitutional ban on gay marriage, with gay advocates planning a ballot initiative in two years; that is, if a legal challenge now playing out in federal court in Detroit does not overturn the ban. But largely because the couple has an adopted young son, they felt they couldn't wait.

"We didn't want to feel like we were throwing in the towel for our battle for equality in Michigan," he said. "But boy, 2016 is a really long time to not have protection for yourself as a couple and for your child."

While polls show support growing substantially for expanding gay rights, opposition remains strong, notably among Republican elected officials, who control the state House, Senate and governor's office. The debate also raises a broader policy question: Whether laws restricting gay rights and abortion, another hot-button social issue, are stunting Michigan’s ability to attract talent and sustain its economic recovery?

A number of experts on economic and community development say Michigan policies on gay rights and women’s access to abortion are creating barriers to growth and prosperity. While states like Minnesota and Illinois reach out to gay individuals and families, proponents of stronger protections for gays and women say the same-sex marriage ban and a new law that will require women to purchase an insurance rider to cover abortions send a different message.

“Increasingly, the economy is driven by talent," said Lou Glazer, president of Michigan Future Inc., a nonprofit that focuses on boosting the state’s economy and talent pool. "Talent comes in every dimension, and if you are not welcoming, they are not coming here."

Some Republican lawmakers, meanwhile, say they are increasingly wrestling with the question of how to balance respect for individual freedoms with competing concerns of personal faith and shifting public sentiment.

Sen. Roger Kahn, R-Saginaw Township, is among those who have denounced the anti-gay rhetoric of Michigan's Republican National Committeeman David Agema, but don’t see a need to translate that sentiment into broad legislative action. Kahn said he's willing to consider specific legislation – for instance on domestic-partner benefits – but believes that marriage should be between a man and a woman. "I think it's a slippery slope question ... there's a line I'm not willing to cross on marriage, at least for now."

Michigan’s gay marriage ban

In November 2004, Michigan voters joined voters in 10 other states in banning same-sex marriage. Fifty-nine percent of Michigan voters supported the one-sentence addition to the Constitution:

"To secure and preserve the benefits of marriage for our society and for generations of children, the Union of one man and one woman in marriage shall be the only agreement recognized as a marriage or similar union for any purpose."

The anticipated impact of the amendment was fiercely debated at the time, and its meaning has been subsequently challenged in the legislature and courts. Today, gay rights advocates say it's clear that residents who are gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender are treated as second-class citizens. They note that their religious and civil commitment ceremonies lack the legal standing of marriage, which has an impact on issues like health insurance, tax obligations, retirement benefits and child custody rights. Like Arizona, which recently drew controversy for a bill that was widely viewed as providing cover to discriminate against gays, Michigan currently has no law that protects people who are fired or denied housing for being gay.

"At every point in the average person's life, when we are trying to take care of our partner or our children, it (the gay marriage ban) hinders our ability to do so because we don't have equal rights under the law," said Emily Dievendorf, managing director of Equality Michigan, a LGBT advocacy group.

But others oppose what they see as an effort to grant special rights to gays and lesbians. Limiting marriage to a man and a woman "has been pretty much the law of the land since the founding of the country," said John Truscott, a Lansing political strategist who frequently works with Republicans. "It's pretty tough to say it's discriminatory when it's been in place for a long time."

In 2004, Michigan was riding the political tide in banning same-sex marriage; Massachusetts stood alone in legally permitting it. In recent years, the landscape has changed dramatically. Gay marriage spread across the East and West coasts, to places like New Mexico and Iowa, and, last year, to the Great Lakes states of Illinois and Minnesota. In all, 17 states and Washington, D.C. now recognize same-sex marriage.

Despite Republicans' political dominance in Lansing, legal challenges have made Michigan's situation fluid. Gay rights advocates are hoping that a federal judge will strike down the ban on same-sex marriage in a trial that began last week. Absent that, supporters plan a petition drive to put a constitutional amendment on the ballot in 2016 that would allow gay and lesbian couples to marry. Polls show it has a reasonable chance of success.

Fighting the brain drain

After a decade-long economic downturn in Michigan, many things are looking up. The economy is improving, the domestic auto industry survived and is thriving, and Michigan's population has inched upward after years of decline.

But serious challenges linger, key among them building the skilled, creative talent pool that fuels economic growth and attracts high-paying jobs to the state. Michiganders are less likely to have college degrees than other Americans. In 2012, only 26 percent of Michigan’s adult population 25 and older had a bachelor’s degree, 37th in the nation.

And too many young college graduates continue to leave the state, whether for better opportunities or lifestyle choices.

Amid this fragile economy, it’s difficult to quantify whether laws affecting gays and women are affecting Michigan’s financial fortunes, or the state’s ability to draw educated, creative professionals and entrepreneurs. Likewise, there is little reliable data on demographic shifts in the state’s LGBT community. But gay rights advocates argue that the states that are the most prosperous are taking a different approach to gay issues than Michigan.

Michigan leaders have been trying to improve the talent pool for years. Former Gov. Jennifer Granholm set an audacious and unachievable goal of doubling the number of college graduates, and she launched a Cool Cities initiative promoting vibrant downtowns to lure young entrepreneurs, among others. In January, Gov. Rick Snyder created the Michigan Center for New Americans to attract and retain immigrant talent. He has also asked the federal government to provide 50,000 new employment-based visas for skilled immigrants who work and live in Detroit.

Michigan's highly regarded public university system holds the potential for enhancing the state’s standing in the talent race – if young graduates can be persuaded to stay. But about two of every five new graduates move to other states, according to the Presidents Council, State Universities of Michigan. As Bridge has reported, Michigan has seen a net annual loss of 19,000 college graduates over the past five years. Forty-two percent of the Michigan residents leaving the state have college degrees, compared with just 38 percent of those moving here.

While many leave for job opportunities, nearly two-thirds of young college graduates nationally say they look first for the place they want to live, then for a job in that location, according to a 2006 study by CEOs for Cities, a network of urban leaders. In a web-based survey of 1,000 young people, more than three-quarters said they wanted to live in a community that “will allow me to lead the life I want to lead.”

Add to that overwhelming evidence of support for same-sex marriage among the young Michiganders upon whom the state’s economic future depends, which includes a desire to live in communities that welcome diversity. A May 2013 poll by Lansing-based EPIC-MRA showed that 72 percent of Michigan voters ages 18 to 34 support same-sex marriage, compared with just 24 percent in opposition. (Among all ages, 55 percent favored gay marriage, 41 percent opposed.)

Those sentiments may help explain why places like San Francisco and Chicago have become migration magnets for Michigan millennials.

"If you look at the states across the country that have the most prosperous economies and have the largest concentration of talent, they are gay-friendly, immigrant-friendly, women-friendly, better on race issues," said Glazer, of Michigan Future.

Research by Michigan Future found that states permitting gay marriage are typically the most prosperous, at least in part because they cast a wider net for talent. Most leading states in private-sector income, including Massachusetts, Illinois and Minnesota, allow gay marriage. States at the bottom, such as Mississippi, Idaho and Arkansas, have same-sex marriage bans.

Kahn, the Republican state senator, said Michigan should support policies that encourage everyone to come to Michigan, rather than seeking to attract any particular group. Ari Adler, spokesman for House Republican Speaker Jase Bolger, said Republicans already have an effective strategy for building a state attractive to millennials.

“Young, talented people want to live where they can find a job and raise a family in a healthy economy, with good schools, good roads and strong public-safety initiatives. That’s where House Republicans have been focusing their efforts,” Adler wrote in an email. “We will continue to look at issues necessary to continue driving Michigan’s recovery forward.”

Making choices

The decision by Kent and Diego Love-Ramirez to leave Michigan came gradually. Kent grew up outside Lansing, graduated from Michigan State University and was communications director for the MSU College of Law. Diego, a Delta Airlines pilot, moved to Michigan after meeting Kent 11 years ago.

Their exchange of vows at the MSU Alumni chapel in 2007 lacked legal standing. They married again in Washington, D.C. (after gay marriage was legalized there), but that wasn’t recognized here, either. After the U.S. Supreme Court overturned the Defense of Marriage Act last year, the federal government recognized their D.C. marriage. But Michigan’s ban on same-sex marriage remains in place unless or until voters change the Constitution or the courts find Michigan's ban unconstitutional.

The couple started seriously considering moving when when their adoptive son was born in 2011. Michigan law prohibits joint adoptions by same-sex couples, which means that only one of them is legally Lucas’ parent. (They won't say which because they reject the notion that they are not both his parents.) They can rectify that with a stepparent adoption in Minnesota, and plan to adopt a second child.

The prohibition on second-parent adoptions is a huge problem when one partner dies or the couple splits up, they said. In a divorce, the adoptive parent has no obligation to the non-adoptive parent to maintain visitation or have any contact whatsoever, Kent Love-Ramirez said.

"With every advance made around the country and throughout the world, it makes Michigan and states like Michigan look more and more repressive, backwater, … uninviting," said Kent Love-Ramirez, now director of communications for the University of Minnesota’s Humphrey School of Public Affairs.

“As a lifelong Michigander for 43 years, it really makes me sad.”

Recruiting talent

The University of Michigan and, more broadly, the Ann Arbor area, are among the most welcoming communities to gay individuals and families in the state. U-M created the nation’s first university-funded office to support gay and lesbian students some 40 years ago, and more than 20 gay and lesbian organizations operate on campus. University officials carefully refashioned U-M’s domestic partner benefits to ensure that they continued after the state gay marriage ban.

R. Van Harrison, professor of medical education and coordinator of the U-M LGBT Faculty Alliance, says he served on a faculty search committee where the preferred candidate was a woman in a committed relationship with the biological mother of a handicapped child. Although the university offers health benefits for families like this, she turned down the position.

“Given the nature of the laws in the state, she said, ‘Look, I cannot afford to come here and make my life and try to build a career and find out that three years from now, a Republican majority in the legislature has found a way to prevent the university from offering this benefit,’” Harrison recalled.

The idea that embracing diversity and inclusion can be tools for strengthening communities and economies has grown largely out of the work of urban theorist Richard Florida and the Creative Class Group that he founded.

Florida's research showed that housing values were substantially stronger in regions with larger concentrations of gay and lesbian residents, as well as artists and musicians. And in focus groups, educated mothers said they were attracted to communities with higher percentages of people who were gay and lesbian, “partly because they found it to be more open and welcoming and really provided the diversity they were looking for,” said Steven Pedigo, director of research for the Creative Class Group.

The group’s work with the Gallup Organization on the “Soul of the City” project showed that people often choose places to live where they can be themselves. “If you have a community that is open and tolerant, there are many more niches for people to fall into,” Pedigo said.

Seeking civility, common ground

Amid the gay and abortion rights controversies, there are signals that some proponents and critics are trying to reach common ground. Many Republicans in addition to Kahn have, for instance, denounced the anti-gay, anti-Muslim statements made by Agema, the Republican national committeeman.

Kary Moss of ACLU of Michigan has engaged in serious discussions with Republicans, Democrats and business leaders about legislation that would prohibit discrimination in employment and housing based on sexual orientation.

"I think the climate has shifted dramatically in the last 12 months," said Moss, who added she hopes the legislation will be enacted this year.

Bolger, the Republican House Speaker, believes in protecting individuals from discrimination but is struggling with finding the balance between personal liberty and religious freedom, his spokesman Adler said.

"He has spoken to many people on this issue and while everyone immediately agrees that something should be done, not one person has been able to provide a solution that protects everyone from intimidation and discrimination – be it for their sexual orientation or their religious teachings," Adler said.

In the meantime, 30 Michigan cities and townships have approved local ordinances providing protection to gays against employment or housing discrimination, rather than wait for the state.

And Kent and Diego Love-Ramirez are building a new life in Minnesota.

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Thu, 03/06/2014 - 8:34am
Any law or regulation that limits any one person in any way also eliminates any potential that that person could bring to the state. If I felt I was limited due to race, gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation, religion, or the color of my hair, I would not feel welcome and would take steps to move elsewhere.
Thu, 03/06/2014 - 8:37am
Jase Bolger should realize that religious beliefs should have NOTHING to do with making or not making any law.
Thu, 03/06/2014 - 1:36pm
Rich, I'm sure the pastors (including Rev. Dr. King) who spearheaded the civil and voting rights movements, appreciate your comment.
Fri, 03/07/2014 - 2:57pm
Dr. King was fighting for equality for all people, not for religious rights. Just because he was a minister does NOT mean that he wasn't fighting for all people.
Tue, 03/11/2014 - 1:34pm
Right, because Dr. King never invoked the Gospels or religion? The point is that many of those who advanced the Civil Rights Movement were southern black pastors. And they talked about Jesus - a lot. Let's not also forget that the abolitionists were religious.
Mon, 10/06/2014 - 1:04pm
“Religion is regarded by the common people as true, by the wise as false, and by rulers as useful.” ― Seneca
Lilly Andrews
Wed, 01/21/2015 - 1:20pm
is michigan the most poupluar place where they have gays
Thu, 03/06/2014 - 8:58am
From an economic growth perspective, one might argue that the State could lose many talented individuals who do not wish to live in an environment that expands "gay and abortion" rights. I wonder if, prior to Roe v. Wade, throngs of people re-located to New York because they could secure legal abortions? Diversity doesn't mean that every State has to look the same, it meas that within the country there is diversity among the various states.
Thu, 03/06/2014 - 9:54am
Agree with Rich. Our country was founded on the principal that church & state need to be separate. What you believe may not mesh with what I believe. We all need to be treated equally by the state. Discrimination has existed since the founding father's time. It just was not recognized as such. We are making headway to reverse this with each successive generation being more open minded than the previous.
Thu, 03/06/2014 - 10:37am
Where did you learn American History? Separation of Church and State was meant to insure that the State would not endorse one religion over another or force citizens to practice a specific religion. The Founding Fathers were almost all devout Christians who believed that faith and morality are intrinsic to good government. As for laws banning homosexual marriage being discriminatory, those who think this is discrimination are wrong, The new homosexual chant is "marriage equality." What exactly does this mean? That a homosexual marriage should be equal to a heterosexual marriage? That can't happen because it is a contradiction. Two homosexuals cannot have a child as a result of having sex with one another. As such, a homosexual marriage cannot be equal to heterosexual marriage. Homosexuals really want marriage to be redefined as a union of two people, not just a man and a woman. A fair compromise is "civil unions," but this is not satisfactory to homosexuals. It's the homosexual activists who are really being intolerant. They want everyone to accept their view of what a marriage is, and they are intolerant of anyone who does not share this view.
Thu, 03/06/2014 - 10:51am
There are heterosexual marriages that cannot or decide not to have children. So I guess a fair compromise would be a civil union for them? There is no rule that a man and a woman who marry MUST produce a child. Therefor your argument falls flat. In closing I would like to respectfully tell you I do not feel I should compromise my rights guaranteed to me under our Constitution so people who disagree will some how feel better.
Thu, 03/06/2014 - 2:14pm
Dan, since even very early civilizations, marriage has been the union of a man and a woman. This is the only union that is able to produce offspring, and keep society / the human race going. You are correct that there is no civil rule that a married man and woman must produce a child, but this does not change the fact that it does take sperm from a man and an egg from woman to produce a child – two homosexual males (or females) are absolutely incapable of producing offspring. A heterosexual marriage also benefits society in various ways, whereas a homosexual marriage really only benefits the two partners. In addition, as far as the Catholic Church is concerned, marriage is a Sacrament that can only be entered into by a man and a woman, and producing offspring is one of the primary purposes of marriage. But you think that this more than 2,000 year old definition of marriage is wrong, and you want me to change my beliefs to suit your beliefs. This is rather intolerant. And, finally, the Constitution does not grant two homosexuals the right to get married. The 14th Ammendment says. “No State shall make or enforce any law, which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.” But both the Fed and the States make laws that abridge our freedoms all the time. Why is it against the law for a blind person to drive a car? Why is it against the law to yell “fire” in a crowded theatre? Why do I have to wear a seatbelt if I don’t want to? Laws exist to benefit society, and unless you can come up with a really compelling reason to redefine marriage that will benefit society as a whole, a civil union seems to me to be a pretty good compromise
Thu, 03/06/2014 - 2:48pm
If your married, your in a civil union because you had to get a license from the county to have the union recognized for all the legal purposes that go along with it. Marriage is a term used to describe the union. you can get hung up in the "definition" all you want, but what difference is it going to make to you personally? How will your life and pursuit of happiness be put at risk? Are couples "married" by a judge any less married than those whom choose to have a minister perform the ceremony?
William C. Plumpe
Thu, 03/06/2014 - 6:01pm
Gus--- an extremely well thought out and well written reply. I agree 100%. And I might add or reiterate that no religion that I know of actively condones gay marriage---not a single one---and many who actively oppose it and in fact consider it immoral. Why should society legalize immoral behavior so that a small, select special interest group of radical fringe "me, me, me" yahoos can have their way when they are going against thousands of years of history, sociology, biology, anthropology and religion in asking for gay marriage to be legal? Besides I am very peeved by the fact that gay marriage supporters seem to be moving in direct opposition to the vote of the people by employing clever, devious and underhanded judicial machinations to subvert the democratic process and further their selfish, self centered and hedonistic agenda. Those are not values that I want to support nor do I think society should support them either---not at all. I thought that such heavy handed tactics only happened in Russia. Gay marriage is a bad idea for Michigan and a bad idea for the United States. Enough said.
Fri, 03/07/2014 - 10:39am
You cite the Catholic Church - again, irrelevant in making state policy.
William C. Plumpe
Sun, 03/09/2014 - 6:34am
Hey get over yourself for once. This is the real world not some moot court or logic contest or college debate competition. Besides your entire argument rests on a logical technicality---that some heterosexual marriages won't produce children then any marriages should not be denied if they don't produce children. That is a false argument because you are using an exception to try to prove the general rule---faulty logic. Heterosexual marriages are allowed and authorized by society because at its core heterosexual marriage benefits society as a social contract and an enduring social benefit because in general it has the possibility of producing children in a nurturing family environment. Of course there are always going to be exceptions but in general there can be and is the possibility of procreation within the legal contract that is heterosexual marriage. There simply is no possibility and never will be any possibility of that happening---never ever any possibility unless something really bizarre occurs---of that happening in a gay marriage---no possibility at all. Gay marriage is a bad idea for Michigan and a bad idea for the United States. Enough said.
Thu, 03/06/2014 - 11:48am
The Founding Fathers were mainly deist. They believed in science and the natural world. So, your idea of a good place to live without the homosexuals bothering you would be the Middle East, Russia and parts of Africa? Explain how a gay marriage have any affect on your life?
Thu, 03/06/2014 - 11:49am
Most of the founding father were NOT devout christians. Most were Deists who were influenced by John Locke.
Thu, 03/06/2014 - 1:19pm
Only Franklin, Jefferson and Paine are considered deists, but even that is now being debated. Adams was a Congregationalist/Unitarian, Hamilton an Anglican, Washington an Episcopalian. Even Wikipedia (which is liberal) says, "Of the 55 delegates to the 1787 Constitutional Convention, 49 were Protestants, and two were Roman Catholics (D. Carroll, and Fitzsimons)." Of the 56 Signers of the Declaration of Independence, 32 were Episcopalians, 12 were Presbyterians, 2 were Quakers, 13 were Congregationalists, and 1 was Catholic. Also, I am not "bothered" by homosexuals. They can have civil unions and be "united" in this fashion, with all of the legal benefits. I am bothered by the fact that they want to redefine the word "marriage." In the Catholic Church, which has been around for 2,000 years, Marriage is a Sacrament, a union of a man and a woman. This is also my belief. By attempting to redefine the word marriage, homosexuals are saying their belief that marriage is between any two people is correct, and that the more than 2,000 year old definition is wrong --and that if I don't accept their definition I am a bigot. Sorry, that is irrational.
Thu, 03/06/2014 - 2:17pm
Sigh. You lose your argument again because after defending your belief that our Founders were practicing Christians, you then introduce the Catholic Churchs beliefs which are irrelevant to civil proceedings. "Marrige" as you call it, has changed dramatically through the last five centuries and with it the rights and responsibilities of the parties. The United States has not clearly separated government and religion and marriage is a perfect example. If you wish to get married in Europe, you have to first get "married" by the State. Then, if you wish, you can get "married" by whatever religion you want. Unfortunately we have mixed the two here. In addition, citing the religion of the founding fathers is interesting as they supported slavery (at least most of them did). They got that terribly wrong. And you sir, have same sex marriage wrong. For your information, there are thousands of examples of homosexual animals meaning we are BORN with our sexual natures. If you believe in God, they God made us that way. If God made homosexuals, then persumably God wants his creations to be happy. (P.S. When did you rationally chose to like women? Or did you just get aroused at some point thinking of them? Same with gays and lesbians.) Accept the fact that like many of the early founders who believed in slavery, you are also believing in something that is wrong as is the Catholic Church. (How long did it take them to admit they were wrong about the earth being the center of the universe?)
Thu, 03/06/2014 - 3:43pm
You don't have to be married to produce children. As for the Catholic Church, they have been on the wrong side of history on many occasions. The only reason that they don't believe in birth control, is that they want as many followers as possible.
LJ Diesel
Thu, 03/06/2014 - 1:16pm
Hi Gus, you apparently learned your American history at church. I think Uganda would be the perfect xtian nation for you to live in. They have laws to imprison the LGBT community. Sounds like a nice place....for someone like you.
Sun, 03/09/2014 - 1:09pm
Have you ever examined your own arguments? You write " Separation of Church and State was meant to insure that the State would not endorse one religion over another or force citizens to practice a specific religion." How is it that the state's ban on gay marriage is not the perfect example of the state imposition of religion? The state is imposing your religious dogma on me and thousands of other individuals who believe that long term family relationships are the foundation of our country. You want to make that kind of family stability only accessible for people who share your religious beliefs. I want to make it equally accessible for all adults without discrimination. You argue that your beliefs are religious and that the state is correct to use its power to enforce them. I am not sure what you see when you look in the mirror in the morning but it must be scary as heck for you to see abject manifestation of what you preach against. Please reread the new testament, or at least strike out the trespasser/debtor part of Lord's Prayer when you recite it. Unless of course you want your God to judge you the same way you judge LBGT individuals.
Sun, 03/09/2014 - 3:01pm
Gus, Our founding fathers emphasized the value of teaching about morality and other benevolent values which are commonly associated with religion, and thought that teachings about them built a stronger society. Most definitely did not favor pushing Christianity on people as a faith. They saw churches as valuable supporters of civic public good behavior values, but not as promoting doctrinal issues.
Thu, 03/06/2014 - 9:55am
Why is abortion even mentioned in this article? Especially in the title? There is nothing in the article which discusses how Michigan's abortion restrictions are either encouraging people to leave me or discouraging them from coming here. There's no anecdotal evidence provided and the author was apparently unable to find even one example of one person who isn't in Michigan because of abortion restrictions.
Thu, 03/06/2014 - 2:15pm
Good point, David. Perhaps the author could have also followed up on the threat from opponents of HB 5711 that there would be consequences at the ballot box. Time and again in Michigan, history shows, the pro-abortion rights groups get the attention but lose the votes.
Mon, 10/06/2014 - 1:07pm
“If there is a God, atheism must seem to Him as less of an insult than religion.” ― Edmond de Goncourt
Sun, 03/09/2014 - 1:20pm
From the U of M study of college student views on LBGT issues."Collectively, students agree with LGBT civil rights. In fact, their endorsement is much higher than that among the U.S. general population. But support is not universal among either students or issues: 78 percent support employment protections, 11 percent oppose and 11 percent are neutral; 71 percent support civil unions, 13 percent oppose and 16 percent are neutral; and 68 percent support same-sex marriage, 22 percent oppose and 10 percent are neutral." Read more at: the beliefs of 78 percent of this population will have absolutely no impact on where they choose to live and work? That is the argument you make? Really?
Thu, 03/06/2014 - 10:39am
Does John Truscott (of the public relations firm Truscott Rossman) REALLY believe that a law which has been around since the founding of this country is NOT discriminatory, simply on the basis of its longevity? An uninformed opinion, at best.
Thu, 03/06/2014 - 2:52pm
Thank you for commenting. I thought the same thing when I read the article. John Truscott. Really?? He's Engler- lite.
Thu, 03/06/2014 - 11:20am
I don't know. Most of the "explanations" for gay marriage being valuable to society are very self serving, have no scientific basis and are largely here say which is generally not admissible in a court of law as evidence. In fact the whole argument seems based almost solely on "public opinion" and "we've got to feel good" attitude studies that are nothing more than a lot of self congratulatory back slapping and "we're poor victims" whining. Nothing of anything of real meaning and substance. My advice? Get over yourself, stop playing the victim and join the rest of the human race. Who owes you anything? Not me and not anyone else. Get real and stop playing the victim then you will begin to know what true equality means. Enough said.
Thu, 03/06/2014 - 2:22pm
William, there IS scientific evidence. We KNOW there are animals who are homosexual. Lots of them. They did not chose to be born this way. They just were. Now we used to descriminate against persons who were of low IQ, forbidding them to marry but we became enlightened on the subject over time. The same thing is happening here. No one is "whining" except you. We are talking about human rights....something you obviously do not care about in the least. At least I hope you are NOT a christian because Jesus ask us to "love our neighbor as we love ourselves". Please tell me you don't believe in anything. That would at least explain your post.
Thu, 03/06/2014 - 3:28pm
Since you brought up scientific evidence, Where is this? A gay gene has been found? Wasn't very long ago that science regarded homosexuality as a mental illness. Not that I really care what two or more people do in this regard, but trying to genetically or evolutionarily justify it is very flimsy.
Thu, 03/06/2014 - 3:51pm
Were is the gay gene? Do you realize that humans has both male and female characteristics. Some more than others. The Greek God Hermes was a hermaphrodite. His symbol was a mirror like Venus but with wings, since he was the messenger of the Gods. Vestiges of both male and female.
Thu, 03/06/2014 - 4:46pm
Soooo.... WHERE is it?
Thu, 03/06/2014 - 6:00pm
Good grief! It's hiding under your bed!
John Q. Public
Tue, 03/11/2014 - 11:00pm
Get over yourself? That, from a man whose tag line, "enough said", implies his should be the last word on everything?
Thu, 03/06/2014 - 11:31am
Religion is the bane of mankind. It wants to drag us back to the Dark Ages were we believed in the supernatural. The Founding Fathers were deist. They believed in science and the natural world. Read Jefferson's version of the Bible. He left out all the superstition. We need to have a progressive state and not one dragged down by religion. Keep religion in the church and not in politics.
Thu, 03/06/2014 - 11:43am
If the argument is that we need to diminish or abandon the very foundation on which our society is (and all societies have been) based - the traditional family structure - and that infanticide is necessary for us to realize our economic potential, then indeed our days as a society and culture and economic power that others in the world would aspire to are severely numbered.
Thu, 03/06/2014 - 2:27pm
Obviously you have never gone to college and studied comparative cultures. The foundation of a society is not the traditional family. The foundation of a society is a set of cultural norms and customs that allow a group of people to live together and prosper. That can take many, many forms. And societies change over time and there have been enormous changes in ours in the last 50 years: civil rights for blacks; voting rights for blacks; civil rights for women; voting rights for women (only in 1919!); the right to birth control; rights for the mentally challenged; etc. What is happening is progress: "ALL persons are created equal" and should be treated equally unless, of course, you don't believe that in which case why are you living in this country?
Thu, 03/06/2014 - 5:15pm
Sorry George but the foundational purpose of any society or any species is to perpetuate itself, which puts homosexuality in a very clinical perspective, right next to masturbation. While no question great achievements and contributions are made by gays, when this central point is forgotten, these achievements end up being found by archeologists.
Thu, 03/06/2014 - 5:18pm
George, apparently Bridge only allows a thread to go so far, so here is my response to your 2:17 pm post. (Long sigh) . . . 1) You disagree with the FACT (not my beliefs) that the majority of the founding fathers were Christians, and on this basis yousay I'velost the argument? Nice try. 2) The Founding Fathers views are germane to the discussion of separation of church and state. I was responding to Plubius' contention that they were deists, which they were not. Yes many of them were slave holders, and many of them also knew that slavery was wrong and that the issue of slavery needed to be addressed. But that is not relevant to this discussion. 3) The definition of "Marriage" has not "changed dramatically" in the last 500 years. Can you site any scholarly works to prove your statement? 4) Redefining the word "Marriage" impacts all the major religions as well as civil law, so religion must be part of the discussion. 5) Most European countries are social democracies. I would prefer that the USA not become one. And just because Europeans caved on this issue, that does not make their position the right one. You've cited nothing that disproves anything I've said, and you brought up all kinds of irrelevant issues. You've also not bothered to comment on why a "civil union" is not an acceptable compromise. You have also not shown how I "have same sex marriage wrong." Bringing up the fact that there are homosexual animals changes nothing. Only a male and a female can produce offspring. Also, you are telling me to accept that my beliefs are wrong simply because you say so, because my beliefs do not coincide with your beliefs. There's that old intolerance thing again. I offer a compromise and you slap my hand away! You are right about one thing though -- because the courts are overwhelmingly filled with liberal judges now, they may eventually rule that homosexuals should be allowed to "get married." But civil law does not trump natural law, and allowing homosexuals to marry does nothing to advance society.
Thu, 03/06/2014 - 11:50am
The Founding Fathers were mainly deist. They believed in science and the natural world. So, your idea of a good place to live without the homosexuals bothering you would be the Middle East, Russia and parts of Africa? Explain how a gay marriage have any affect on your life?
Thu, 03/06/2014 - 1:19pm
AS TO THE ECONOMIC DOWNTURN , DO WE ALL FORGET THAT G.M. , AND MANY OTHERS , OF THE H U G E EMPLOYMENT BASE GOT UP , AND LEFT. EVERY BUSINESS , SCHOOL DISTRICT , AND FMILY HAS SUFFERED FROM IT ! Marriage is a religeously-based institution. The separation of church and state issue is simple. We all learned,in gradeschool,that it was imposed as a measure,to keep any single religion from running the government. After all , RELIGIOUS FREEDOM is what the founders came to this continent,to get. Discrimination on the job,or for housing,etc.. Thats just wrong! No matter who's getting discriminated against! I hold FKRM , that Marriage IS between a MAN , and a WOMAN , BUT , a gay couple SHOULD be able to get RECOGNIZED , LEGAL unions. For LEGAL protections,including partners , and , especially , children. It only makes logicsl sense.
Thu, 03/06/2014 - 2:02pm
Did Bridge editors miss the fact that for two straight years Michigan has witnessed a population growth, during which time marriage has been constitutionally protected, abortion clinics are safer and cleaner, and tax payers would no longer pay for another person's abortion? Narratives are one thing, facts are another. Perhaps Bridge could do a follow up on the 2008 stem cell research proposal to inform its readers how many cures have been brought to patients and how many jobs have come to the state. Might as well get something out of that $25k.
Thu, 03/06/2014 - 2:39pm
The State should protect the right of individuals to practice their religious beliefs. That has nothing to do with marriage. In the modern era, marriage is a civil function, not religious, though many couples choose to have a church bless their marriage. Gay and lesbian couples deserve the same rights as a married couple regarding property, child custody, and rights of survivorship as heterosexual couples. There is absolutely no "threat to the family" or "attack on religion" with the state recognizing same sex unions. Heterosexual couples who choose marriage will continue to do so, they will also practice their religious beliefs just as they always have. Recognizing and sanctioning same sex relationships will not result in gays' openly recruiting children into the homosexual life. Their will be no increase in homosexuals making advances to heterosexuals. If our current bans in gay marriage continues, Michigan stands at risk of may bright, highly skilled individuals and entrepreneurs, as a result of it current stance.
Thu, 03/06/2014 - 11:18pm
Marriage is still a religious act to many people. To say it's not is ignorance. But as a Christian who does believe homosexuality is immoral yet government is a poor judge of morality. My biggest issue is how many homosexuals want to force their lifestyle on others. If you want to go in front of a judge or anyone else who is willing to preform the union fine, but I shouldn't be forced to take part in it. Unfortunately the is what is happening. Photographers, bakers getting sued for not wanting to take part in what they view as an immoral act. So now they are discriminated against because of their beliefs. One can't say don't force your view on me while they are trying to force theirs on everyone else.
Thu, 03/06/2014 - 3:07pm
Thinking out of the box, Why does Michigan (or anywhere else) need to recognize any marriages? Given the record clearly it doesn't do it very well. While I personally believe in the institution as I understand it, I don't see a reason that the state needs to recognize my marriage or anyone else's. It is as much like the state passing a law that the sun shall rise in the east. No matter what my thought or anyone else's are on what marriage is or isn't, for better or worse the culture is going to go with it where it will . But, Marital status shouldn't be used as a basis to award and distribute benefits. Society or we as individuals shouldn't be forced to support, reward or even necessarily respect anyone's idea of marriage that comes along. Like it or not we're in a world or soon will be, where if some one wants to claim to be married to anyone(s), thing(s ), there seems no real logical and recognized standard left to which anything can be denied.
Mike R
Thu, 03/06/2014 - 5:52pm
Marriage may have originated as a religious institution, but for centuries it has been fundamentally a legal institution in that it affects and governs legal relationships. While the religious aspect can and often is divorced from the overall concept, the legal aspect cannot be so divorced without creating something that is not, by definition, a marriage. To create a status of "not a marriage" (e.g. civil union) that is the only similar legal relationship available to people based on an inherent characteristic is, by definition, to create a class of persons segregated by that characteristic. We know that sexual orientation is an inherent characteristic (the fact that at one time it was considered a mental disorder doesn't change that fact). To discriminate against someone based on sexual orientation is no different from discriminating against someone based on race, color, national origin, or any other characteristic over which the person has no control or choice. The same arguments now used against gay marriage were used to justify discrimination against people of color: "It's natural law;" "It's in the Bible;", "It's always been done this way"; "The electorate has spoken;" "The majority rules"; "They're disgusting and unclean;" "Integration will corrupt our children"; "Intermarriage will destroy the family and this Nation". None of these arguments were or are based in logic, rationality, or scientific evidence, and most of them are supported only by religious belief. The constitution prohibits "any law in respect of religion", so a law granting the right to marry to one group and not another based only upon religious belief is unconstitutional without regard to the length of time it has been in effect. While we are required to (and should) respect, honor, and uphold every person's right to practice his or her religion without government interference, that right always has had limits (human sacrifice, ritual stoning, and child abuse come easily to mind). The courts must set limits where the legislature will not. As a result, our legal system abolished slavery and Jim Crow despite the foot-dragging of politicians, arguments of religious zealots, and opposition of narrow-minded traditionalists. You can believe what religious principles you wish, but if those principles compel you to discriminate against others based on their inherent characteristics, then you, my friend, are a bigot. And no amount of religious conviction or good-faith belief will alter that fact.
Thu, 03/06/2014 - 11:10pm
Mike, the history of marriage being a legal state sanctioned relationship is much shorter than you represent, not to mention very spotty for a considerable time even after it first appeared as we know it. To deny the primary religious basis of the institution ignores the last millennium and a half of human history but given the fact of our society I choose not to follow that line of reasoning. The strong state interest in marriage didn't really come about until state benefits began to be awarded based on one's marital status, these same benefits are completely unsustainable .... but hat's off our subject but seem to part of the driving interest in the subject . There is no real agreement as to what homosexuality is , you can't claim it is inherent any more than you'd claim any other neurosis is inherent. No gay gene(s) has been found and you'd better hope never will. No matter what level of societal acceptance is claimed, if the gene was identified it would lead to a trip to the abortion clinic faster than you can say LGBT! As far as religious condemnation of homosexually excluding a few wackos I see very little interest in condemnation in persecution of gays as a group, and given the educational , economic and cultural status enjoyed I have a hard time seeing the harm inflicted. As for your contention that "we're required to respect, honor and uphold ..." . What rubbish! Many cultures and religions required marriage of siblings, you have the various polygamous faiths, not to mention all sorts of other nonsense too long to list- I assume you're good with all that? State neutrality is as good as good as we can hope for. Having the state back out of the marriage business is far more workable for the future than the hash mash you end up trying to construct.
Mike R
Fri, 03/07/2014 - 3:08pm
Matt, I have no idea what you're talking about; it certainly is not about my post. Go back, read it again, and make at least a nominal effort to comprehend. Then please take your bigotry somewhere else.
Thu, 03/06/2014 - 10:05pm
I did not grow up wanting a civil union, I grow up wanting to get marred one day. When I was little my dad said to me that one day you will be able to get married, he never said anything about having to get married to the opposite sex than I am today.
Fri, 03/07/2014 - 12:31pm
My family is scattered across the country because Michigan will not recognize her marriage. Our outdated laws hurt thousands of families and causes too many of our talented youth to move to other states, when they would rather live close to home.
Caroline B Smith
Sat, 03/08/2014 - 12:33pm
"Are Michigan’s restrictions on gay and abortion rights holding state back?" Just asking the question implies an answer. and my answer is DUH? Not very intellectual, but there it is.
Sat, 03/08/2014 - 3:30pm
Aborting a human life after conception is not pro choice, it's pro destruction of a new individual. May the plight of Sodom and Gomorrah not be that of the USA.
Sat, 03/08/2014 - 5:21pm
Thanks Caroline for getting us back to the topic. I encourage all of you to go back and read the article, pick out the main point(s), and then comment if you have something to add value. I will add that marriage in our society is first of all a legal issue. It requires a license. States authorize individuals to legally marry couples. Those individuals may be church authorities or not. The marriage may occur in a church or not. Those are realities right now. The license is signed by the person performing the marriage and put on file with the local government.
Sun, 03/09/2014 - 2:35pm
And the "state licensing" is a relatively new phenomena compared to the history of the concept of "marriage." In other words, the institution of "marriage" pre-dates the state's involvement in it. Marriage historically, was a religious concept, officiated over by "a priest" that benefited society, not a civil concept (or a civil right) that benefited religion.
David Waymire
Sat, 03/08/2014 - 9:29pm
“Young, talented people want to live where they can find a job and raise a family in a healthy economy, with good schools, good roads and strong public-safety initiatives. That’s where House Republicans have been focusing their efforts,” Adler wrote in an email. “We will continue to look at issues necessary to continue driving Michigan’s recovery forward.” Michigan Roads in shambles, education policies leading to the EAA and not moving the state in national assessments, some of the most dangerous cities in the nation, bottom 5 in U and bottom 15 in income. Hmmmmm.
Sun, 03/09/2014 - 9:37am
“It’s pretty tough to say it’s discriminatory when it’s been in place for a long time.” Really? Slavery was codified in the Constitution and lasted over 300 years. I'd say it was more than a little discriminatory...
Sun, 03/09/2014 - 11:26am
I am continually saddened by the righteous, strident, condemning rhetoric of the self-professed Christians who have to have someone or some group to hate. They require an "other" to blame for their own inadequacies. In the old south it was the Southern Baptists hatred of blacks. Today it is LBGT people. It seems that they have never read the new testament and the promise of Christ's message of forgiveness. Will young talented LBGT and women look to live in other states?; unquestionably. But the real problem is the larger group of young talented individuals who are appalled by the way these laws treat their friends. The millennials will vote with their feet to move to places where the need to hate, disparage and make others different is not the law of the land. I guess the proponents of restricting women's and LBGT rights believe that we are better off if white men run the place. One more nail in Last Gasp of the Old White Men's coffin.
Sun, 03/09/2014 - 3:12pm
Read my reply to Bill, above. Also, I am one of those old white guys (also a life-long Catholic), and I know zero Christians who hate homosexuals. I certainly don't. I do, however, have a problem with their attempt to change the meaning of the word "marriage" which in the Catholic Church is also a Sacrament, as well as their intolerance for religion and religious viewpoints. Your remarks also exhibit this intolerance. My belief is that homosexual sex is sinful. You can certainly disagree with me, and we can agree to disagree. Be that as it may, a good compromise seems to be to allow homosexuals to be legally joined through a "civil union." This gives homosexual couples the same legal rights as heterosexual married couples without impacting the religious concept of marriage. By insisting that the historical religious view of marriage should be changed to accommodate them, however, homosexuals are saying 'you are wrong about what marriage is, and we are right' and this is crux of the issue.
Tue, 03/11/2014 - 8:41am
It just strikes me funny that the folks who say marriage has historically been a religious institution and are suggesting that now it is same sex marriage that threatens to change its fundamental meaning are apparently okay with the fact that the authority to marry has been superseded by secular state institutions. Where is the outrage over this fundamental change? Frankly, as long as the only document that matters in this society is the civil document called a marriage license, I would suggest that all such unions, including same sex unions, be called marriages. What others call the joining ceremony within their religious institution and what it personally means to them is their business alone.
Denny Cochran
Thu, 03/20/2014 - 1:40pm
“Can gay rights prosper us?” (GRPress, Chris Andrews, March 16, 2014) Can removing the moral constraints of traditional marriage prosper anyone is a better question? Why limit marriage to two people? What reasoning could justify excluding any gender combination of more than two people from claiming fairness and equality through the rights of civil marriage? Granting such rights would be a certain path to moral ambiguity, and no one knows the unintended consequences that may result – including the presence or absence of economic prosperity.
Tue, 12/09/2014 - 12:55pm
I was about to move my entire group of investments and property to Michigan but now have to put all plans on hold until after I find out what is happening with HR 5859. Michigan's law which would allow business owners and medical doctors the right to refuse service to gay people based on their religious beliefs. I would not want to live in a State that has such a bigoted political views. Wake up Michigan house of reps, do you really want to scare everyone out of the state who doesn't have the same religious views as you.
Kurt Lawrason
Tue, 03/31/2015 - 2:15pm
I also adentified myself as a least for the first 28 yrs. of my life. It was in 1979 that I came out of the closet in Grand Rapids Michigan. My employer was a well known retailer in the area with close ties to a Christian Church there. When they learned I was gay I was asked to get "Therapy" (at their expense) or leave. They mentioned that since they were "Christians" they closed on Sundays, and they also believed that being Gay was sinful. I chose to leave...leave the state. I moved to Minneapolis, MN where I heard they had equal rights protections for GLBT identified persons. This was in 1980. It is here where I flourished as a person, where I was accepted for who I am. Even today some 30 years later I have learned the State of Michigan has not changed much, and even concidered a Religious Freedom Act in late 2014. I actually was thinking of retiring in the northwestern part of the lower peninsula where I grew up. I have since have had 2nd thoughts and decided to stay where I am valued as a contributing member of society. Minnesota cares about all its citizens. I feel I belong here. Sadley, I can't say the same thing about my home state of Michigan
Sun, 08/30/2015 - 4:52pm
Well i have a daughter that's just opened up to me about her being a lesbian, she's had boyfriends in her life but I'm confused as to her being in this type of relation with another woman. I'm heterosexual. My point is accepting all this news about the relationship i see more mess and confusion more than a little bit, because she stays into more fights that has caused her to go to the hospital, her fight has caused her eye damage, that really has me sad as a mother. I can't pull her out of it like i use to because she's grown for the most of it. And i don't want to be imprisoned because I'm protecting my child from a confused lifestyle obviously. I don't have a problem with same sex relations cause it's a sloo of them in my fam. The problem i see is that yaw have these groups that's suppose to support or protect you from ppl who wants too do bodily harm to you and nothings being done about it. Please help me understand this, and who can help! A concerned mother