Irwin and Zemke sponsoring legislation to allow same-sex marriage in Michigan
State Reps. Jeff Irwin and Adam Zemke, both Democrats from Ann Arbor, have joined other House Democrats in announcing a package of bills to allow same-sex marriage in Michigan.
The announcement came Monday morning with the U.S. Supreme Court due to release a ruling on Proposal 8 and the federal Defense of Marriage Act, two cases dealing with marriage equality.
"It's time for Michigan to stop discriminating against the thousands of couples who want to marry and enjoy the same recognition and benefits for themselves and their children that come with marriage, and that my wife, Kathryn, and our kids enjoy," Irwin said. "The legislation that we propose today represents the next step in the fight to ensure all citizens are equal in Michigan."
The first piece in the legislative package is a house joint resolution that amends Michigan's constitution to allow same-sex marriage, which was banned in Michigan in 2004.
The second bill recognizes same-sex marriages that were licensed in other states. The third bill makes other changes directly to Michigan's marriage laws regarding who is allowed to marry, and the final bill calls on the U.S. Congress to repeal DOMA.
Zemke said denying marriage equality is bad for attracting and retaining young talent and sends a message to the rest of the world that Michigan is not a forward-thinking, competitive state.
"That's not the Michigan I know and love, and it's time for a change," said Zemke, emphasizing that younger generations are showing leadership in marriage equality.
"I am a proud millennial, and today, I stand wearing that badge even prouder because more than 70 percent of millennials said that they support the rights of same-sex couples to marry under the law," Zemke said. "Our generation is our nation's leader on this issue."
In May, Zemke introduced House Bill 4742, which would reverse Public Act 297 — the state's ban on extending health benefits to domestic partners of public employees. Many Democrats and gay rights supporters have called the state's ban discriminatory and overreaching, while some Republicans argue it's a matter of fiscal responsibility and it reflects the will of Michigan voters who decided in 2004 to define marriage as a union between one man and one woman.
State Sen. Rebekah Warren, D-Ann Arbor, also announced the introduction of legislation in the Senate last month to remove Michigan's ban on same-sex marriage.
The legislation followed a new poll by the Glengariff Group showing 57 percent of Michigan voters now support gay marriage, a 13-point jump from a year ago.
"The people of Michigan have spoken loud and clear, and they are fundamentally supportive of the idea that every person in our state should have the freedom to marry the person they love," Warren said. "This legislation will not only allow all couples to make a lifetime commitment to one another, but also extend important legal protections to them and their children."
The measure to amend the state's Constitution to remove the prohibition on same-sex marriage would require two-thirds support in the House and Senate to make the statewide ballot.
Ryan J. Stanton covers government and politics for AnnArbor.com. Reach him at email@example.com or 734-623-2529. You also can follow him on Twitter or subscribe to AnnArbor.com's email newsletters.