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Posted on Fri, Jul 13, 2012 : 12:09 p.m.

John Dingell's chief of staff says congressman's views on same-sex marriage have evolved

By Ryan J. Stanton

Much like President Barack Obama, U.S. Rep. John Dingell's position on same-sex marriage has been evolving, says the congressman's top staffer.

"Like the rest of America, Congressman Dingell's views on this issue have evolved, in large part because he and Debbie have friends and neighbors who are in committed and loving relationships," said Katie Murtha, Dingell's chief of staff.


John Dingell

Murtha responded to via email after Dingell's political opponent raised questions Thursday about why he has been so silent about changing his mind on same-sex marriage.

Dingell, D-Dearborn, recently joined as a co-sponsor of the Respect for Marriage Act, which would repeal provisions of the Defense of Marriage Act, but he didn't publicly announce his position change.

DOMA, which defines marriage as the legal union of one man and one woman, was previously supported by Dingell and signed into law by President Bill Clinton in 1996. The Respect for Marriage Act would federally recognize the validity of same-sex marriages.

"On June 1, about six weeks ago, the congressman decided to co-sponsor legislation to repeal the Defense of Marriage Act because this legislation returns power to the states without forcing religious institutions to do anything," Murtha said. "Congressman Dingell cares about this issue and wants to see it move forward, which is why he is focused on the policy, not the politics."

Daniel Marcin, a 25-year-old Ann Arbor resident and University of Michigan Ph.D. candidate in economics, is challenging Dingell for his seat in the Aug. 7 primary.

Marcin, who has pressed Dingell on the same-sex marriage issue for weeks, said on Thursday he still questioned Dingell's silence on it.

"Mr. Dingell added his co-sponsorship completely silently," he said. "There was no press release, no photo, no news story, and not even a tweet. John Dingell can't even cut a ribbon without giving a speech and posting photos. So why did he change his position on an issue of extreme importance to the people of the 12th District?"

Ryan J. Stanton covers government and politics for Reach him at or 734-623-2529. You also can follow him on Twitter or subscribe to's email newsletters.


Urban Sombrero

Mon, Jul 16, 2012 : 12:18 a.m.

"Like HHS this bill would tell the people of faith what to believe, and open the doors for more destruction of the family." Destruction of the family? Because we allow homosexuals to marry? Sorry to get all "yell-y" and stuff, but......ARE YOU KIDDING ME? The divorce rate in the U.S.A. is hovering well above 50%. If anyone is responsible for the so-called, "destruction of the family", it's the people marrying who end up dissolving their unions. (And, as a divorcee, I will admit that I am firmly in that group.) Homosexuals marrying will not erode family values, nor will it destroy the sanctity of marriage! The sanctity of marriage has had more damage done to it by the hetero population. Look, 40 years ago it was an "Abomination" for blacks and whites to intermarry. Now we look back upon that time (assuming you're not a backwoods KKK member, that is), with SHAME. Imagine how dumb people will feel 40 years from now, looking back on the vitriol and vehement efforts to stop gays from marrying. Want to "Sanctify" marriage again? Make divorce illegal. All around. That's the way to make sure "one man, one woman" will NEVER fail. Otherwise? We need to evolve. Gays marrying will not make the sky fall! It will not force straight people to enter into gay unions. It will not erode the separation of Church and State. You know what WILL happen (if gays are allowed to marry)? Gays will get married. End of story. Maybe I'm biased. My son is gay. And, I will fight until I breathe my last breath to guarantee him his civil rights. But I truly, honestly believe that this kerfluffle is nothing but a tempest in a teapot. Once gays are allowed to marry, the furor will die down. And then? Wow. We'll all move on and.....gasp! Evolve. Like we've been doing, throughout human history.

Andrew Morales

Mon, Jul 16, 2012 : 12:48 a.m.

Right on!!! I completely agree 100%!!!

Mathew Jones

Mon, Jul 16, 2012 : 12:36 a.m.

Thank you Mom!!! Me being gay isn't changing the doesn't make me any less of a person! THERE IS NOTHING WRONG WITH GAY MARRIAGE OR BEING GAY!!!!!!!!


Sun, Jul 15, 2012 : 3:38 p.m.

Isn't Sodomy still a crime in Michigan?


Sun, Jul 15, 2012 : 9:06 p.m.

Not since the Supreme Court of the United States ruled it unconstitutional.


Sat, Jul 14, 2012 : 12:30 p.m.

Why is the federal gov't involved in this? It's a state issue. And for that matter why is the state even in the marriage business? There is no reason for the state to even recognize a marriage. And Mr. Dingell? Retire, go away, this was never intended to be a lifetime job.


Sun, Jul 15, 2012 : 4:48 a.m.

Because the Federal govt got involved with DOMA


Sat, Jul 14, 2012 : 11:18 a.m.

Only dinasours " evolved " dingell hasn't quite gotten that far...

Joel A. Levitt

Sat, Jul 14, 2012 : 11:03 a.m.

By cosponsoring the Respect for Marriage Act, Congressman Dingell has increased the debt we owe him for decades of progressive leadership. Congressman Dingell, please don't retire to a life of ease. We need you now more than ever.

Paul Schreiber

Fri, Jul 13, 2012 : 9:29 p.m.

Congressman Dingell has supported Washtenaw County on many issues including affordable housing (Hamilton Crossing Apartments) and transportation. I'm glad we can add "freedom to marry" to that list.


Sat, Jul 14, 2012 : 11:54 a.m.

No term limits? Try age limits!


Fri, Jul 13, 2012 : 7:41 p.m.



Fri, Jul 13, 2012 : 6:40 p.m.

" has requested an interview with Dingell. A spokesperson for his campaign said on Thursday the campaign is still debating which media outlets will receive interviews before the Aug. 7 primary." Once again, Dingell's slick public relations machine is running! They are carefully anaylizing which media outlets gets to interview the person who sets himself higher than the people he is supposed to serve. The public relations team is carefully looking at each media outlet to see which one will give him the most favorable light. They are also carefully structuring what questions will be allowed to be asked. Also, they have to make sure that he doesn't do too many interviews before the primary in fear of Dingell saying the wrong thing at some point. Yes, indeed, his slick public relations team is hard at work.

Alex Swary

Fri, Jul 13, 2012 : 6:31 p.m.

I think it's fair to use the term "evolving" as opposed to "flip flopping" in regards to a particular person's view to same sex marriage. Public opinion polls have been "evolving" for many years on the issue. I'm not going to attempt to cite any specific numbers, but I don't think it's any secret that more and more Americans have shown support for gay marriage over the past couple decades. I'd say that as a country our views are "evolving." I wouldn't say that we're a bunch of flip floppers.


Sat, Jul 14, 2012 : 7:33 p.m.

Angry, I have a feeling you're comingling two different "crowds" of Americans here.

Angry Moderate

Fri, Jul 13, 2012 : 8:10 p.m.

More and more Americans have also showed support for the death penalty over the past couple decades. Yet I suspect this crowd wouldn't label that as "evolving."

Top Cat

Fri, Jul 13, 2012 : 5:07 p.m.

His view on Federal Budget deficits have evolved as well. When Bush was in the White House, they were too high. Now the bigger the deficits, the better.


Sat, Jul 14, 2012 : 5:38 p.m.

J - if we needed the litany of excuses, we could watch Granholm on Current, or basically any Obama speech. Unemployment: 7.4% in 1980, peaked at 10.8% in 1982. Michigan unemployment over 14%. Inflation: 13.5% Unemployment: 7.1% in 1985 Inflation: 3.6% I'll accept your debt to GDP ratio - it generally makes my point (and Cheney's) of debt carry and overall health of the economy. And are you sure you'd want to bring up a Bush promise when Obama made the same?


Sat, Jul 14, 2012 : 4:19 p.m.

A little more history: George W Bush claimed he would "retire nearly $1 trillion in debt over the next four years. This will be the largest debt reduction ever achieved by any nation at any time." During his term he had a GOP majority for quite a while. Why did they not retire some debt? If we want to assign blame for our national debt, we need to look in the mirror.


Sat, Jul 14, 2012 : 4:14 p.m.

ARBOR- Chinese imports into America in the 1980's? In the 80's we competed with Japan, Germany and a few other small European countries for manufactured goods sales. Today we compete with Japan, Germany, India, Brazil and China and multiple smaller countries. There is a huge difference in the way our economy is structured now. Comparing employment levels is very difficult. We are supposed to be a "service economy". How is that working out? 1980 debt to GDP- roughly 30%. 1985 roughly 65% . 2000- +- 55%, 2009- 80%+ Here is a funny thing, If Obama had zero increase in spending, the debt would STILL be going up. The question is, what changed to make our debt so much of a political issue from 2007 to 2009? RINO Romney has said he will not drastically reduce spending, because that would cause a recession.


Sat, Jul 14, 2012 : 2:11 p.m.

J - just two little questions to complete your historical synopsis: 1) Unemployment and inflation rates in 1980 and then in 1985. 2) Percentage of public debt to GDP in 1984-1985 and today. Thanks.


Sat, Jul 14, 2012 : 12:36 p.m.

Not that is has much to do with anything, but all 16 high jackers most likely opposed homosexuality.


Sat, Jul 14, 2012 : 12:29 p.m.

And guess what? When the GOP ran congress and/or the WH, deficits were fine, now they are not. "Reagan proved deficits don't matter."-VP Dick Cheney Reagan nearly tripled our debt, Bush II nearly doubled it. When many of us asked about it, we were told to either love America or leave, funny how we don't hear that from the TP lately.


Fri, Jul 13, 2012 : 9:47 p.m.

Why of course, all 16 hijackers on four aircraft were all per-tea partiers, didn't you get the memo?

Top Cat

Fri, Jul 13, 2012 : 7:42 p.m.

Tom, did you mean Korea and Vietnam ?


Fri, Jul 13, 2012 : 6:30 p.m.

@Tom, how did the wars "erode" the middle class?


Fri, Jul 13, 2012 : 6:25 p.m.

Tom, And what proof do you have that the Republicans started two wars on purpose? And at the start of the Iraq war, you do realize that the senate was controlled by the democrats? At the start of the Afghan war, the senate was also controlled by the democrats.

Tom Todd

Fri, Jul 13, 2012 : 5:47 p.m.

Republicans started 2 wars on purpose to further erode the middle class.


Fri, Jul 13, 2012 : 5:02 p.m.

What's wrong with someone's views on the subject evolving? It makes sense. Those who thought same sex marriage was wrong or immoral at one time in their life (because the bible told them to)...have actually met partners in a committed, loving, nurturing relationship and changed their views on the subject. Makes perfect sense.


Fri, Jul 13, 2012 : 6:48 p.m.

@Bob...I guess I wasn't clear in my comment. I apologize. What you say is absolutely correct. My point (although somewhat obscure) in the question was that this is a long serving congressman. Out of all of us, should he not be responsible enough to "investigate" the situation before making a determination? After all, he is responsible for creating the laws that govern all the citizens; he shouldn't be doing this out of ignorance. To wait 50 years to get to know something about which you have been voting is a bit late.


Fri, Jul 13, 2012 : 6:36 p.m.

SEC Fan...the point is....many straight people think homosexuals are gross, immoral, icky whatever you want to call it. If those folks would actually take the time to get to know some same sex couples, they would come to realize that they are no different than straight couples. That's the point and so yes, his views evolved on the subject.


Fri, Jul 13, 2012 : 6:29 p.m.

gee...i wonder what kind of relationship he thought they were having before he "met" them?

Angry Moderate

Fri, Jul 13, 2012 : 6:05 p.m.

And others have "evolved" in the opposite direction. Like "flip flop", it's a dumb term for "changing your mind."

Alan Goldsmith

Fri, Jul 13, 2012 : 4:52 p.m.

"Congressman Dingell cares about this issue and wants to see it move forward, which is why he is focused on the policy, not the politics." This from a guy who sends out a press release every time he brushes his teeth? Spare me that after over a half a century of being in Congress, it's suddenly 'not the politics' spin, please. The public is not that stupid. You lacked the courage for several decades but welcome to the 21st Century. Even Dick Cheney was more progressive on this issue than you. Lol.


Fri, Jul 13, 2012 : 6:28 p.m.

that last sentence scares me :-)

Unusual Suspect

Fri, Jul 13, 2012 : 4:41 p.m.

See? I told you in the previous story that it's not "flip-flopping" when Democrats do it, it's called "evolving." Come on, try to keep up with me, people!


Sat, Jul 14, 2012 : 12:26 p.m.

I think the original "flip flopping" title was given by the GOP to John Kerry. If one reads the conservative media one finds considerable comment about Mitt Romneys "evolving" positions on gun control, abortion, climate change, mandated insurance, minimum wage, Reagan era policies, Vietnam, and more. But, all of that is no longer relevant, for some reason.

Martin Church

Fri, Jul 13, 2012 : 4:38 p.m.

May be the silence is due to the fact the 12 district has spoken on the issue and support DOMA and not RMA. marriage is a sacrament of faith supported by government for the care of children. RMA would destroy the family environment and put children at risk. Like HHS this bill would tell the people of faith what to believe, and open the doors for more destruction of the family.


Sun, Jul 15, 2012 : 9:04 p.m.

Children at risk? Isn't that an outrageous phrase to use? Please define how children are placed at risk, or even how the family environment is destroyed. How is the destruction of the family to occur when two loving partners are allowed to marry? For Shame that allows this garbage to be posted!

Urban Sombrero

Sat, Jul 14, 2012 : 2:44 a.m.

Couples. Sorry for the typo.

Urban Sombrero

Sat, Jul 14, 2012 : 2:43 a.m.

So, marriage is just about children? What about coupled who decide not to procreate?


Fri, Jul 13, 2012 : 5:04 p.m.

Hate to break it to you Martin...plenty of same sex couples have and are raising children. I don't consider that "destroying the family environment". In fact, just the opposite.


Fri, Jul 13, 2012 : 4:57 p.m.

People of faith would be free to marry whomever they like.

Silly Sally

Fri, Jul 13, 2012 : 4:26 p.m.

John Dingell will do anything to stay in office; this is another example of him prostrating his beliefs to do so. Can we believe him? Does he have any convictions outside of staying in office and serving himself? Oh, the power of it all, that is his goddess We need new blood. 8o or so years of a Dingell is too much..