Michigan Now Supports Marriage Equality

In 2004, Michigan voters approved a constitutional amendment banning not only same-sex marriage, but almost any legal or financial change that benefits same-sex couples. 8 years later, a new poll shows strong support for marriage equality in the state.

Only eight years removed from approving an amendment to the state constitution defining marriage as between one man and one woman, a majority of Michigan residents now support gay marriage, according to the results of a recent survey by Michigan State University.

The State of the State Survey, which included telephone interviews with 1,015 Michigan adults between June and August of this year, found 56 percent of respondents saying they support gay marriage, while only 39 percent said they were opposed.

Two years ago, the statewide survey revealed that a small majority of respondents — 51 percent to 48 percent — were opposed to gay marriage, which would allow same-sex couples to enjoy the benefits of traditional unions, including hospital visitation rights, joint tax returns and joint adoptions.

I think the same thing is happening in many other states. I think in 2016, you’ll see the first states begin to pass referendums repealing the previously-passed bans on gay marriage, possibly here in Michigan. By 2020, many states will have done so. The election two weeks ago, when four states voted for marriage equality, was a huge tipping point.

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  • Michael Heath

    Ed writes:

    I think in 2016, you’ll see the first states begin to pass referendums repealing the previously-passed bans on gay marriage, possibly here in Michigan.

    It’d be interesting to see a compelling analysis on why all six of Michigan’s initiatives put to voters this past election day all failed. I point this out because special interest groups are increasingly putting initiatives to voters and in this election cycle, all were soundly voted down where three favored a liberal agenda and three a conservative one. That seems to me to put a “yes” vote to removing MI’s anti-gay constitutional amendment from our constitution at a distinct disadvantage, in spite of a majority of voters seemingly in support of equal rights for gays.

    Perhaps we can get wording similar to, Should Michigan’s constitution continue to maintain Amendment “X”, which denies equal rights to gays and their families?

  • lancifer

    Let’s hope that the change in public attitudes about same sex marriage is accompanied by a willingness to take to the polls to support the laws necessary to make it legal.

    Although they have lost the clout to elect presidential candidates (at least bland Mormon ones) the Christian right does have a formidable ability to get people to the polls to support its social agenda.

    Need I remind folks of California Proposition 8? If they can get that passed in arguably one of the most liberal state in the land it may be very difficult to get pro same sex marriage laws passed in places like Alabama, Mississippi, etc.

  • whheydt

    Prop. 8 passed fairly narrowly. If it came to a vote now, it would probably go the other way. (But, yes, as a California voter, I was disappointed that Prop. 8 passed.)

    In the mean time, SSM ballot measures can be subject to the “Bradley Effect”, so read poll numbers will a pinch of salt.

    I suspect that one will see are failures to repeal SSM bans for a few years, followed by several years of repeals of existing bans, followed by wider spread passage of laws enabling SSM.

    Once SSM is legal in something close to a majority of states, with a clear trend line, the USSC will suddenly discover that SSM is a fundamental right and that it fall under the “full faith and credit” clause as well, at which point there will be a “landmark” ruling making SSM legal nationwide and throwing out SSM discrimination in the tax code, inheritance, and so on.

    It was almost 20 years from the California State Supreme Court decision over inter-racial marriage (in 1949) until the USSC tossed anti-miscegination laws (in 1967).

    When I was growing up, the sort of marriage that was looked on with horror was between two people of different religions.

  • abb3w

    lancifer, you might also be reminded that prop 8 was all the way back in 2008; nationally, attitudes have shifted from 55-40 against to 50-45 in favor (+20 net support), with no sign of an impending plateau.

    The religious right will continue to push as hard as they can, but their numbers (and thus how hard they can push) are steadily diminishing, and even more moderate Christians are no longer seeing a point to the fight. The gains they’ve made are likely to start washing away like a sandcastle meeting the incoming tide in the next 10 years. Though there may be a few amendments passed strengthening existing bans in the reddest states, especially in non-presidential election years, it’s increasingly going to be a losing rearguard battle for the religious right.

  • The Michigan referendums this year were either so badly worded they were downright laughable (making the *legal* definition of an “international crossing” be “any bridge or road that had no traffic on it as of 1/1/12” totally without wordage that made it applicable only to a bridge or road connecting the USA with another country rather than any bridge or road anywhere in the state, as a case in point) or were issues that simply, imo, did not belong in a state constitution. Michigan already have a law in place that mandates 10% renewable energy by 2014 that it looks like they may not be able to meet. Constitutionally mandating that 25% be *specified types* (forever and ever regardless of future technology unless we change the constitution again?) of renewable energy that also had an “oh, sillies! You don’t have to meet that standard if it’s going to cost consumers even trivial amounts more per month” clause, seemed pretty pointless to me.

    However, I voted for marriage equality in 2004 here in Michigan and I would certainly do so again.

  • Michael Heath

    whheydt writes:

    In the mean time, SSM ballot measures can be subject to the “Bradley Effect”, so read poll numbers will a pinch of salt.

    I think the Bradley Effect was not a factor in the four state-level gay marriage initiatives held earlier this month. IIRC the results were consistent with pre-election polling.

  • gshelley

    That went quicker than I thought. I was looking this up after this election and the most recent poll I found showed it the other way, though with support for civil unions. I had thought an attempt to amend in 2014 to allow civil unions and for the government to recognise same sex partners would pass, but it might be as long as until 2020 before the whole amendment would go.

  • Wes

    Some other interesting data from the article Ed links to:

    College education: Sixty-three percent of respondents with at least some college education said they support gay marriage, compared to only 26 percent of those who had never been to college

    Income: Roughly 71 percent of those with household incomes over $100,000 favored gay marriage, compared to only 26 percent of those with household incomes below $20,000

    Race: Approximately 57 percent of white respondents favored gay marriage, while only 30 percent of black respondents did

    Religion: Fifty-eight percent of self-identified Catholics said they support gay marriage, compared to 48 percent of Protestants. Meanwhile, 78 percent of those without religious affiliation offered support.

    While the education and religion variables are exactly what one would expect, the income and race results are disappointing, if not very surprising. Wedge issues like this show how people vote against their own interests. Wealthy people who don’t really care about gay marriage use it to get poor people to vote for Republicans who will do everything in their power to shift money from the working class to the rich. It’s sad, really, that these kinds of tactics are actually effective.

  • Midnight Rambler

    Wes: I suspect it’s not even so much about education per se, as that that’s where many straight people become personally acquainted with out gay people for the first time, and at a time when attitudes get largely fixed.

  • lancifer

    whheydt and abb3w,

    I agree that attitudes are definitely changing but I live in Indiana and open opposition to gay marriage is touted by Republicans (and even some Democrats) seeking office with depressing enthusiasm.

    I’m figuring it only gets worse the further south you go into the “Bible Belt”.

    I hope you guys are right and the tide will turn quickly. It may help that, nationally at least, the Republican Party is realizing that if it doesn’t better align itself with the views of a majority of Americans it is only going to slip even further into minority status.

    Maybe it’s time for the Log Cabin Republicans to take a stand.

  • abb3w

    @10, lancifer:

    I agree that attitudes are definitely changing but I live in Indiana and open opposition to gay marriage is touted by Republicans (and even some Democrats) seeking office with depressing enthusiasm. I’m figuring it only gets worse the further south you go into the “Bible Belt”.

    Sounds about right, yes. Mind you, I’ve some severe prejudices about Indiana due to their history circa 1910-1930 or so, leaving my impartiality suspect….

    The GSS data in open access doesn’t give state-by-state resolution; however, my impression from Gallup is that Indiana is relatively conservative for region 3, which the GSS suggests as circa par conservative for the US. Yes, it gets worse in the south, at least through 2010. (GSS 2012 goes online circa next April….) However, even in the South, there’s a demographic shift beginning. They tend a bit slow, but only about a generation behind the rest of the country.

    Whether it turns quickly depends on your definition of quickly. My back-of-the-envelope work indicates (barring major new trend shifts) at latest 2050 an Amendment will be passed to recognize it nationally, if the SCOTUS doesn’t force the issue that way before that… or if they force the issue the other way.

    I expect it will be down to Southern hold-outs by 2025, though. Which is still “not soon enough”, by critical measures. An “Alexander v Holmes” type ruling by then might be really, really nice, but likely depends on how soon Scalia and Thomas kick the bucket and who names the replacements.

  • fastlane

    And now, Boeing is trying to remove survivors’ pension benefits for gay couples. Their rating is going down, but the new corporate headmasters in Chicago only seem to care about (their) bottom line.