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Past Justice Action Alerts #12
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Sent: Wednesday, October 06 , 2004

Michigan AFL-CIO Opposes Proposal 2

Proposal 2, a misleading constitutional amendment described by its backers as a "gay marriage ban," would take away many rights and benefits already enjoyed by Michigan families and prohibit all public employers from continuing to offer health and pension benefits through domestic partnerships.

In a press conference earlier today, Michigan AFL-CIO President Mark Gaffney indicated that the organization views Proposal 2 as a cynical and divisive political ploy. He said that the AFL-CIO opposes the measure because it would take away benefits that have already been negotiated into union contracts. Further, he indicated that the AFL-CIO views Proposal 2 as totally unnecessary, noting that same-sex marriage is already illegal in Michigan.

 Detroit Free Press Editorial: Vote No On 2

No on 2: Marriage ban is rooted in intolerance

Detroit Free Press, Oct 6, 2004

Editorial Page

October 6, 2004- Michigan should not enshrine discrimination into its Constitution. Voters can prevent that by rejecting Proposal 2, which would amend the Constitution to define marriage as a union between one man and one woman.

The object is to ban marriage for gays and lesbians, already illegal under Michigan law that supporters of Proposal 2 fear will be overturned by the courts, as happened in Massachusetts.

Members of Citizens for the Protection of Marriage, which collected the signatures that put Proposal 2 on the Nov. 2 ballot, take umbrage at accusations of bigotry. They argue that celebrating traditional marriage should not be taken to mean they're anti-something else.

Whether it's naivete or ill will, they fail to acknowledge that the proposal is exclusionary in its decree that marriage is strictly for heterosexuals. Proposal 2 supporters also say it's about children -- families are healthier when one man and one woman raise their offspring. But families are healthiest when headed by two adults committed to one another. As many adoptive parents also have proved, biology can't claim the franchise on good child-rearing.

Even if the idea of gay marriage gives voters pause -- polls show it certainly does -- the language of Proposal 2 goes too far. It says the union of one man and one woman is the only one recognized as marriage "or similar union for any purpose." Supporters say that language is merely there for emphasis. They should have left it out.

At best it is unclear and likely will end up in court. A Louisiana judge threw out a similar constitutional amendment Tuesday. At worst, it could mean government agencies cannot recognize civil unions and offer domestic partner benefits -- limiting their ability to treat employees fairly.

Businesses, too, look for an inclusive climate when they consider where to locate. This can also be a factor in recruiting.

The respected and apolitical Citizens Research Council says the economic impact of Proposal 2, pass or fail, will be negligible.

But benefits such as health care -- for spouses, partners and children -- tend to be doled out through jobs. Denying benefits to the households of gay employees means public systems will have to pick up those costs. A government stamp of approval makes it harder to walk away from a union, so if the real interest is in keeping families together, gay marriages would help.

In a turbulent world, it's tempting to cling to tradition. But tradition is full of practices America long since shunned as discriminatory. The constitutional amendment blocks any possibility that gay couples might get the recognition to which they are entitled. Michigan should not ban gay marriage.

Vote NO on Proposal 2.

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