Lawmakers in two rust belt states say it's time to repeal gay marriage bans.

Both Ohio and Michigan voters agreed in 2004 to define marriage as a heterosexual union in their respective constitutions. Ohio voters also banned recognition of any union that “intends to approximate the design, qualities, significance or effect of marriage.” Now, five years later, measures have been introduced in both legislatures to repeal those bans.

Michigan Speaker Pro Tempore Pam Byrnes, a Democrat from Lyndon Township, first announced her bill at a June Gay Pride Parade in Lansing.

“The time has come,” Byrnes told the Michigan Messenger in June. “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.”

Byrnes' measure would also recognize gay marriages performed outside Michigan, in effect legalizing gay marriage so long as couples are willing to marry in a state where it is legal. Currently, five states recognize such unions: Massachusetts, Iowa, Vermont, Connecticut and, starting on January 1, New Hampshire. Byrnes has also promised to introduce a gay marriage bill, as well.

On November 3, voters delivered a mixed message on gay nuptials when they approved an “everything but marriage” domestic partnership law in Washington State but “vetoed” a gay marriage law approved by lawmakers in Maine.

No state has yet to reverse a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage. The first state to try will likely be California, where gay rights groups are considering putting the issue back on the ballot either in 2010 or 2012.

In Ohio, Representative Tyrone K. Yates, a Democrat from Cincinnati, introduced a similar repeal measure on Tuesday.

The lawmaker told the Cincinnati Enquirer that Ohio's gay marriage ban was hurting the state economically: “It's causing us economic and social harm in our ability to attract and keep people here.”

Both resolutions, however, face an uphill battle to reach the ballot box. Making the ballot in Ohio and Michigan requires the approval of both legislative chambers; Michigan requires a two-thirds majority vote, and Ohio three-fifths. Ohio's Republican-led Senate is not considered to be friendly on gay rights. A gay protections bill easily approved by House lawmakers in September is feared dead in the Senate, which has yet to assign the bill a hearing.

The gay rights group Basic Rights Oregon is also pursuing a repeal effort in Oregon. The group launched a petition drive last week to put the issue before voters in 2012.