Michigan Gay Marriage Law Already Being Abused

Eugene Volokh has a post about Michigan's new law against gay marriage, passed by referendum in November, being used as a weapon against state and local governments offering benefits to gay couples. During the ugly campaign for and against the referendum last fall, opponents of the referendum pointed out that the language was broad enough that it could also be used to take away domestic partnership benefits that are part of collective bargaining agreements between states, localities and corporations and their employees. Proponents of the referendum denied that this would happen:

Citizens for the Protection of Marriage, the group that ram-rodded the petition drive to get the issue on the ballot, said it is not focused on benefits or discrimination. Members don't want same-sex marriages validated here like judges and politicians have done in Massachusetts and California.

"This is about defining marriage of one man and one woman," said Kristina Hemphill, of Southfield, a communications director for Citizens for the Protection of Marriage. As for people losing benefits, "nothing that's on the books is going to change. We continue to confuse this issue by bringing in speculation."

Okay, I call bullshit. Because no sooner was the referendum passed then the state government voided an already-negotiated union contract provision allowing partnership benefits for state employees, and now the Thomas More Law Center (yes, the very same "Christian" legal group that is defending the Dover school board in the lawsuit over ID in science classrooms) is suing to prevent local schools from giving any benefits at all to gay couples, something that is a part of many of the collective bargaining agreements between teacher's unions and schools. The lesson, as always: never trust the legal maneuvering of those who are motivated by bigotry, especially those claiming the moral high ground. You're almost certainly being sold a bill of goods.

Let's dig a little deeper into the specific connections. As Don Herzog pointed out, half of all funding for the campaign to get this referendum passed from from the Catholic Church, who themselves insisted that the new law would have nothing to do with partnership benefits currently in place, it was solely about the definition of marriage. Not only did the seven Catholic dioceses in Michigan give half a million dollars to the campaign, the Michigan Catholic Conference sent out a letter to nearly 600,000 Catholic households in the state urging them to vote for the referendum. The Thomas More Law Center is an offshoot of the Ave Maria Law School, founded and funded by Domino's founder Tom Monaghan, a hardcore Catholic who is very well connected in the Catholic church. Talk about a bait and switch.

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Thanks for pointing out that those who oppose same-sex marriage are not only bigots but liars as well.

By Carole Rubin (not verified) on 12 Feb 2005 #permalink

Thanks for pointing out that those who oppose same-sex marriage are not only bigots but liars as well.
I didn't quite say that. I don't think that everyone who is opposed to same sex marriage is motivated by bigotry, or are any more prone to lying than anyone else is. I think the leadership is motivated by that for the most part, but the rank and file are not as bad. Half of those who are against gay marriage are for civil unions, which tells me that the motivation is something other than bigotry. But they are being manipulated by leaders who are lying bigots.

Point taken. I must have been in an over-generalizing mood. Though I must confess I wonder at the lack of bigotry that you find motivating those who are in favor of civil unions but not for gay marriage. Would the separate but equal position not be considered a "bigoted" argument if we were taking about African-Americans?

By Carole Rubin (not verified) on 13 Feb 2005 #permalink