A Michigan lawmaker is planning to
introduce legislation that would repeal the state's ban on gay
marriage, the Michigan Messenger reported.
Speaker Pro Tempore Pam Byrnes, a
Democrat from Lyndon Township, said she will announce the effort
Saturday at Lansing's annual Gay Pride event.
“The time has come,” Byrnes told
the Michigan Messenger Friday. “I think attitudes are
changing. We are seeing other states flip on this issue especially
when you get the former Vice President Dick Cheney acknowledging
same-sex marriages, then I think we definitely see a change in
attitude and it's time to revisit this.”
Fifty-nine percent of Michigan voters
agreed to place a gay marriage ban in the state's constitution in
2004. But support for gay and lesbian rights has increased
considerably since then. A recent poll conducted by the
Chicago-based Glengariff Group shows gay marriage support has swelled
over the past five years to an all time high of 47% – nearly
doubling the 2004 figure. When asked about civil unions for gay
couples, three-quarters of respondents favored the idea, signaling
strong support for gay rights in the state.
The bar to repeal a constitutional
amendment, however, is high; it requires a two-thirds majority in
both legislative chambers and approval by voters. Without a vote to
spare, Democrats have the majority needed to approve the amendment,
but it would face an uncertain future in the Republican-led Senate.
If successful, it would be the first
constitutional amendment banning gay marriage to be reversed. Thirty
states have adopted such amendments, including California, where the
gay marriage battle is most heated. An amendment is more powerful
than state law because advocates of gay and lesbian rights cannot
fight such modifications through state courts, and most remain
reticent to attempt a federal challenge. However, there are three
federal lawsuits currently challenging the constitutionality of such
amendments or federal law.
Gay marriage opponents called the
lawmaker's effort a gesture, adding the amendment is unlikely even to
come up for a vote.
“In the unlikely event it ever does
come up for a vote, it's doubtful that even a simple majority of the
House would vote in favor of overturning so recent a vote of the
people,” Gary Glenn, president of the American Family Association
of Michigan, told the paper. “It certainly will not get the