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Michigan Marriage Amendment Nixes Domestic Partners Benefits:

So said the Michigan Supreme Court in a 5-2 decision today.

By state constitutional amenment in 2004, Michigan voters barred the state from recognizing same-sex marriages. But the awkwardly worded amendment went further: "To secure and preserve the benefits of marriage for our society and for future generations of children, the union of one man and one woman in marriage shall be the only agreement recognized as a marriage or similar union for any purpose."

The "similar union" language, along with the "for any purpose" language, was enough for the majority to conclude that it prohibited same-sex domestic partners benefits provided by some 20 state universities and municipal entities in the state. From the dissent: "It is an odd notion to find that a union that shares only one of the hundreds of benefits that a marriage provides is a union similar to marriage."

The Michigan decision sets an interpretive precedent that may be followed in the many other states that have banned same-sex marriages and recognition of other relationships "similar" to marriage.

UPDATE: The full opinion is now available here.

Soren-K:
Well, good. It's nice to see the Justices respecting the democratic processes, whether they like the result or not.
5.7.2008 4:43pm
Boyd (mail) (www):
Maybe I'm just a naïve layman, but it seems to me that providing benefits to same-sex domestic partners is precisely the type of act the Amendment was intended to prevent.
5.7.2008 4:44pm
vassil petrov (mail):
Disastrous and very illiberal decision; marriage amendments are a frontal assault on democracy; unfortunatelly the majority comprises the justices Corrican, Markman, Taylor, Young that are otherwise very fine jurists.
5.7.2008 4:46pm
ejo:
folks democratically deciding something is a frontal assault on democracy? It seems pretty clear that, wherever it has been tested, people don't want gay marriage.
5.7.2008 4:50pm
d:
this is a state (my home state) that badly needs what many refer to as the "creative class." its economy is a wreck and it has tried to attract other industries, such as high tech. unfortunately for them, this is the type of thing that generally scares many of those creative people and companies who depend on them away.
5.7.2008 4:52pm
philosophystudent:

Disastrous and very illiberal decision; marriage amendments are a frontal assault on democracy; unfortunatelly the majority comprises the justices Corrican, Markman, Taylor, Young that are otherwise very fine jurists.


AFAIK this marriage admendment was completely democratic. What this does show IMHO is the limits of democracy for protecting minority groups. The tyranny of the majority, if you will.
5.7.2008 4:53pm
New World Dan (www):
That's funny... the Mass. supreme court ruled that a civil union was distinctly inferior to a marriage. I would suggest, however, that the remedy is not to open up the practice of marriage, but to eliminate it entirely.
5.7.2008 4:54pm
wandering by:
I'm not a lawyer, so forgive me for any naivete I show here.

Doesn't the constitution require that each state recognize other state's laws? So if same-sex marriage is legal in one state, shouldn't it be legal in all of them?

Also, since the famous interracial (virginia versus loving?)case has been in the news the last few days - doesn't that case mean that government can't forbid two people to marry so long as they are consenting adults?
5.7.2008 4:57pm
Crunchy Frog:
Fortunately or not, it is not the purview of the Justices to set policy, no matter how disastrous and illiberal. Civil unions are definitely "similar" to marriage, and the text of the constitutional amendment is clear.
5.7.2008 4:58pm
D.A.:
Seems the logic would also bar benefits from accruing to cohabiting committed heterosexual couples, as well. Do you suppose that's what all the homophobes intended, as well?
5.7.2008 4:59pm
Smokey:
I've always thought from the beginning that gay marriage was about spousal benefits. If it weren't for the money angle, I wouldn't have a problem with it because what people do in private - as long as it doesn't affect me - is none of my business.
5.7.2008 5:03pm
Keith in Dallas (mail):

Seems the logic would also bar benefits from accruing to cohabiting committed heterosexual couples, as well. Do you suppose that's what all the homophobes intended, as well?


Are cohabiting committed heterosexual couples entitled to any real benefits already? Even if they are, I'm sure the people in favor of the policy probably aren't too worried about denying benefits to those who are "living in sin."
5.7.2008 5:05pm
stunned:
that's a startlingly harsh outcome
5.7.2008 5:07pm
Frog Leg (mail):
I am not sure about how the contractual issues work in this case. The unions had contracts with the state that mandated this type of benefit. Can a state simply void any provision in a contract that it wants?
5.7.2008 5:08pm
Smokey:
And per D.A. above, 'spousal' benefits should not be handed out to non-spouses according to government edict. Best solution is for the gov't to get out of the marriage biz, and let contract law between employer and employee determine benefits.

Why should we pay extra for a new car [and just about everything else], just because spouses suck up expensive benefits? This is no longer the '50's, with one breadwinner. Two income families are now the norm.
5.7.2008 5:09pm
Clayton E. Cramer (mail) (www):

this is a state (my home state) that badly needs what many refer to as the "creative class." its economy is a wreck and it has tried to attract other industries, such as high tech. unfortunately for them, this is the type of thing that generally scares many of those creative people and companies who depend on them away.
And the only creative sorts are gay or gay-friendly?
5.7.2008 5:11pm
Brett Bellmore:

Seems the logic would also bar benefits from accruing to cohabiting committed heterosexual couples, as well. Do you suppose that's what all the homophobes intended, as well?


That's certainly how I read it, too: Only the marriage of a man and a woman can be treated like marriage. Should rule out civil unions for hetrosexual couples, too, and arguably put an end to common law marriage.

And I don't think the wording is the least bit awkward: Strikes me as a wonderful example of clear language, even if it expresses something a lot of people don't like.
5.7.2008 5:12pm
Clayton E. Cramer (mail) (www):

Also, since the famous interracial (virginia versus loving?)case has been in the news the last few days - doesn't that case mean that government can't forbid two people to marry so long as they are consenting adults?
Nope. Very different situations. Virginia didn't just refuse to recognize the Loving's marriage in D.C.--it threatened them with prison if the two of them ever returned to their home state of Virginia. Refusing to recognize isn't the same as threatening someone with prison.
5.7.2008 5:13pm
Ak Mike (mail):
Opposite result reached in Alaska Civil Liberties Union v. State, 122 P.3d 781 (Alaska 2005)(Same-sex domestic partners of state employees constitutionally entitled to same employment benefits as married couple, notwithstanding anti-same sex marriage provision of state constitution, and notwithstanding any statutes to the contrary).
5.7.2008 5:14pm
Randy R. (mail):
Strangely, when this bill was presented to the people of Michigan, it was presented that it would not harm their domestic benefits.

What's bizarre about this outcome is that domestic partnerships provided by state universities and municpalities are void, yet if a private company offers them, that's okay.

So Michigan still allows gays to have domestic partnerships, even according to this amendment.

"It seems pretty clear that, wherever it has been tested, people don't want gay marriage."

Well, except for Massachusetts and Arizona. Not to mention NJ, Conn, and VT, which allow civil unions.
5.7.2008 5:14pm
Clayton E. Cramer (mail) (www):

I am not sure about how the contractual issues work in this case. The unions had contracts with the state that mandated this type of benefit. Can a state simply void any provision in a contract that it wants?
Imagine if the union contracts refused to recognize interracial marriages for the purposes of benefits. Would the state have the authority to void such a provision by insisting that racial discrimination is contrary to the public policy of the state?
5.7.2008 5:15pm
Clayton E. Cramer (mail) (www):

And I don't think the wording is the least bit awkward: Strikes me as a wonderful example of clear language, even if it expresses something a lot of people don't like.
Correction, Brett. "Something a lot of people on the Volokh Conspiracy--but a minority of Michigan voters--don't like."
5.7.2008 5:16pm
Frog Leg (mail):
Clayton,
In your hypo, the k is contrary to the US Constitution. This is just to a statute. Apples and oranges.
5.7.2008 5:17pm
Bama 1L:
Romer v. Evans. Discuss.
5.7.2008 5:17pm
Thorley Winston (mail) (www):
this is a state (my home state) that badly needs what many refer to as the "creative class." its economy is a wreck and it has tried to attract other industries, such as high tech. unfortunately for them, this is the type of thing that generally scares many of those creative people and companies who depend on them away.

I’m not sure why private industry would or should care what benefits State employees are offered. Seems to me that if anything this ruling ought to make those private companies which offer health insurance for domestic partners even more attractive than before to their gay employees (relative to working for the State of Michigan at any rate).
5.7.2008 5:22pm
Kazinski:
It will be interesting to see, whether the US Supreme Court will try to apply the same tortuous "rational basis" test to this decision that they did to Colorado in Romer v. Evans.

The parallels are certainly there: there is no requirement that municipalities and cities provide domestic partnership benefits, and there was no requirement that cities adopt bans on sexual orientation discrimination. There certainly was a rational basis for Colorado to have a statewide law covering discrimination, as opposed to piecemeal laws by every municipality, rational except to the supreme court. I hope this court decides there is a rational basis for the state to decide who is eligible for taxpayer funded benefits on a statewide basis, and it is rational to limit those benefits to unions recognized by the state.
5.7.2008 5:26pm
Thorley Winston (mail) (www):
Doesn't the constitution require that each state recognize other state's laws? So if same-sex marriage is legal in one state, shouldn't it be legal in all of them?

Answer: we don’t know. IIRC States are allowed to refuse to recognize “marriages” from other States which are contrary to their public policy but it’s unclear whether limiting marriage to only heterosexual couples is something that the Supreme Court would disallow. Congress passed DOMA (the Defense of Marriage Act) in the 1990’s but AFAIK, it hasn’t been either upheld or struck down by the Supreme Court. Or upheld by one Court and struck down by a later one when the makeup of the Court changes.

Also, since the famous interracial (virginia versus loving?)case has been in the news the last few days - doesn't that case mean that government can't forbid two people to marry so long as they are consenting adults?


Answer: I don’t believe so. IIRC the holding in Loving was limited to only State bans on interracial marriage but that wouldn’t necessarily stop a later Court from deciding to apply it to other cases such as “marriages” between two people of the same gender or cases of incest or other cases where States don’t recognize “marriages” between “consenting adults” for other public policy reasons.
5.7.2008 5:29pm
Randy R. (mail):
I'm so glad those voters in Michigan put a stop to gay marriage. Otherwise, their economy would tank, businesses would leave the state, husbands would start cheating on their wives, and children would refuse to take out the garbage, and the war in Iraq would go on and on.

I'm so glad they had their priorities in place.
5.7.2008 5:29pm
Archon (mail):

this is a state (my home state) that badly needs what many refer to as the "creative class." its economy is a wreck and it has tried to attract other industries, such as high tech. unfortunately for them, this is the type of thing that generally scares many of those creative people and companies who depend on them away.


So the answer to economic downturns is not tax cuts, increased government spending, regulation reform, or anything of the like. It is as simple as "lets find some more gays." Now that is profound.
5.7.2008 5:31pm
HipposGoBerserk (mail):
"And the only creative sorts are gay or gay-friendly?"

Speaking in a gross generalization - yes. My understanding (not sure how broad the polling was) is that among those with college and graduate degrees under 40, fairly large majorities of the population support equal rights for gays (including marriage). I suspect those are the demographic groups that are most creative economically.

HGB
5.7.2008 5:34pm
Hans Bader (mail):
What the voters passed was disturbingly vague and sweeping ("for any purpose," etc.). But symbolic and emotional reasons drove its passage nonetheless.

There could be a lot of unforeseen and perverse consequences from this ballot initiative, many of them having little to do with domestic partner benefits.
5.7.2008 5:34pm
U.Va. 3L:
I’m not sure why private industry would or should care what benefits State employees are offered.

If it discourages "creative class" types from moving to Michigan in the first place because they perceive the state (rightly or wrongly) as homophobic,* then I can see why industry would be worried. The possible inability to draw the creative class to MI (or wherever) is the reason big business usually opposes these measures when they hit the ballot.

*Yes, Clayton Cramer, you're right to point out that not all members of the "creative class" are gay or gay-friendly. But since this demographic is made up chiefly of young, highly educated people, it's not at all a stretch to say that it's mostly gay-friendly.
5.7.2008 5:34pm
One of these days...:
And people wonder why the minority response to the majority so often involves violence and/or rioting. I honestly think that if I worked with someone or lived near someone or knew someone that voted for the amendment, I would do bodily harm to such individual or vandalize his or her car or something similar.
5.7.2008 5:34pm
EH (mail):
folks democratically deciding something is a frontal assault on democracy? It seems pretty clear that, wherever it has been tested, people don't want gay marriage.

There's nothing much more democratic than, "screw the little guy."

I would suggest, however, that the remedy is not to open up the practice of marriage, but to eliminate it entirely.

States should only ever recognize the legal and financial rights in civil unions and marriage should be left to the churches. Marriage should offer no benefits over civil unions outside of a church. Marriage has only ever been about economics anyway, so why should the state care beyond that?
5.7.2008 5:34pm
HipposGoBerserk (mail):
@ Randy R.

You forgot to mention that their main city would become a dump with rampant crime and a mayor best known for breaking the law by abusing his position to hide his marital infidelities.
5.7.2008 5:35pm
Thorley Winston (mail) (www):
It will be interesting to see, whether the US Supreme Court will try to apply the same tortuous "rational basis" test to this decision that they did to Colorado in Romer v. Evans.

It could be interesting although since 5 of the 6 justices who were in the majority in Romer are still on the bench and Chief Justice Roberts provided pro bono assistance to the plaintiffs in the case, I’m not sure the result would be what you’re hoping for.
5.7.2008 5:36pm
ejo:
tell me about the voter approved gay marriage bans and get back to me on how the issue has fared when presented to the people.
5.7.2008 5:37pm
REPEAL 16-17 (mail):
Can anyone provide a link to this decision? I'd like to read it, and the dissenting opinion, before commenting.
5.7.2008 5:39pm
JDS:
Hard-working married couples typically pay more Federal income tax and get smaller Social Security benefits than unmarried people. If unmarried people (or "married" gay people) don't suffer these costs, perhaps it is fair that they not get the benefits mandated to married people.

Disclaimer: I'm part of a cohabiting heterosexual couple, and income taxes and Social Security disability benefits are key factors in determining our status.
5.7.2008 5:39pm
Archon (mail):

And people wonder why the minority response to the majority so often involves violence and/or rioting. I honestly think that if I worked with someone or lived near someone or knew someone that voted for the amendment, I would do bodily harm to such individual or vandalize his or her car or something similar.


Wow. So much for democracy when we can have the tryanny of the minority enforced by violence.
5.7.2008 5:40pm
Kazinski:
Randy R.
Why do you hate democracy?

I'm on the fence about gay unions, with a slight bias for them, but the idea of gay marriges is absurd. In the entire history of marriage coitus has been a requirement for couples to consumate a marriage, it doesn't matter whether the wedding was in church out of church, or whatever other sexual acts the couple performed. Without coitus it is not a valid marriage and can be annulled 20 or more years later as never having happened. So while gay unions certainly are possible, and maybe desirable, gay marriage is not.
5.7.2008 5:41pm
Michigan Law Student:
Does anyone know where the actual opinion can be found on the web? Thanks.
5.7.2008 5:42pm
astrangerwithcandy (mail):
one of these days...

is violence to be condoned when an extra part of my income is taken away by a President Obama through tax increases that I find offensive and equivalent to theft? I will, of course, be in the minority, having not voted for Obama.
5.7.2008 5:46pm
darelf:
The ruling seems correct to me. I don't understand why anyone would be upset by the ruling. I can understand being upset by the Amendment, but the Justices seemed to be simply following the law as the people voted on it.

If the people of MI don't like this outcome, maybe they should consider amending their amendment. Otherwise, they are probably getting exactly what they want. They aren't causing any harm ( i.e. putting people in jail, terminating employment, etc. ), they are simply clarifying what they mean by "marriage".
5.7.2008 5:46pm
Frog Leg (mail):
Michigan SCt and COA opinions are typically available online only until the day after they are released. Check at the Michigan SCt site late tomorrow morning, and it will be available then.
5.7.2008 5:46pm
Thorley Winston (mail) (www):
If it discourages "creative class" types from moving to Michigan in the first place because they perceive the state (rightly or wrongly) as homophobic,* then I can see why industry would be worried. The possible inability to draw the creative class to MI (or wherever) is the reason big business usually opposes these measures when they hit the ballot.

So which “big businesses” opposed the measure when it was voted on?

I’m curious because my experience in working with a lot of businesses is that they tend to want to run as far away from cultural battles as they possibly can regardless of the personal views of their officers and directors because picking a side invariably means alienating at least part of their customers.

And let me just say that I find it incredible that in making the decision to relocate to a new job in a new State, that the “make or break” issue would be where that State’s government offers health insurance benefits to the partners of its gay employees. I’m sure you can find someone who claims that was the reason – I’m sure it sounds good when you’re telling the story about how you refused to move to the “homophobic State” to your hipster buddies at the cocktail circuit – but I don’t buy for a minute that any rational person would base such a life-changing decision on something as minor as that.

An irrational person perhaps, but enough to make a difference in a State’s economic recovery. Not a chance.
5.7.2008 5:47pm
Frog Leg (mail):
One interesting side issue was that when the Proposition was being debated in the public in 2004, the proposers repeatedly stated that employee benefits would not be touched.
5.7.2008 5:48pm
Guest101:

And let me just say that I find it incredible that in making the decision to relocate to a new job in a new State, that the “make or break” issue would be where that State’s government offers health insurance benefits to the partners of its gay employees.

It seems quite credible if you are in fact a gay person, which is what I took d to be saying.
5.7.2008 5:51pm
One of these days...:
Frog Leg, of course that is what the proposers said, and everyone knew at the time that it was a load of manure. Typical Christian approach, lie, cheat, steal, murder, all is forgiven when it comes to the "greater sin" of homosexuality.
5.7.2008 5:53pm
ejo:
has anyone drawn a correlation between a state's gay population and economic booms? I suspect that low tax rates (ie. not michigan) have a lot more to do with economic growth than the gay population. California has had economic problems for a long time and it has more than its fair share of "creative" types. Michigan had good economic times in the past without gay marriage or civil unions. While a nice sounding argument, it makes the buzzer on the silly meter go off.
5.7.2008 5:53pm
EKGlen (mail):

California has had economic problems for a long time and it has more than its fair share of "creative" types

Yes, it's so bad here that only 1 in 9 Americans live here.
5.7.2008 5:56pm
Thorley Winston (mail) (www):
One interesting side issue was that when the Proposition was being debated in the public in 2004, the proposers repeatedly stated that employee benefits would not be touched.

Got a link to that?
5.7.2008 5:58pm
Perseus (mail):
"The role of this Court is not to determine who said what about the amendment before it was ratified, or to speculate about how these statements may have influenced voters," he wrote. "Instead, our responsibility is, as it has always been in matters of constitutional interpretation, to determine the meaning of the amendment's actual language."

I take it that we should score this as a decision based on textualism rather than original intent originalism. But doesn't the awkward language of the text at least open the door to using such statements when interpreting the language even according to original public meaning originalism since the people are the ratifiers in this instance?
5.7.2008 6:02pm
One of these days...:
Who needs a link, it's been said in every single one of these amendments? "Oh no, we're really not hateful bigots, we're just trying to protect the sanctity of our divorce-ridden institution."
5.7.2008 6:04pm
Oren:
I hope the UM system takes this opportunity to nix all partner benefits and just give whatever it was spending as an across-the-board salary increase.
5.7.2008 6:04pm
vassil petrov (mail):
It is an assault on democracy because it prevents the people of Michigan or simple majority (50%+1) thereof from changing in the future their mind about civil unions or gay marriage. Constituionlizing current family law perceptions is one of the most stipid thing a society can do. If indeed the society fears activist judges finding a constitutional right of gay marriage, the option is a constitutional amendment reading something like
Nothing in this Constitution shall be construed as requiring the recognition of marriage or union of persons of same sex or the exention of any right conferred by law upon married person to persons living in relationship with a persom of the same sex
that would preserve traditional marriage from activist judges so long as a simple majority of people in Michigan thinks it should be preserved.
5.7.2008 6:06pm
dg:

I am not sure about how the contractual issues work in this case. The unions had contracts with the state that mandated this type of benefit. Can a state simply void any provision in a contract that it wants?

Hm, I wonder whether this case raises a Contract Clause problem. If my understanding is correct, a state law that "substantially impairs" a party's contract rights must be narrowly tailored to a significant and legitimate government interest. See, e.g., Energy Reserves Group v. Kansas P. &L. Co., 459 U.S. 400 (1983).

It seems reasonable to think that the retroactive elimination of domestic partner benefits from certain state employment contracts constitutes a "substantial impairment," but I don't know enough about this area of the law to really say. Does anybody else have thoughts? In any case, I suppose we'd have to see the terms of the contracts to make a truly informed judgment.
5.7.2008 6:07pm
Oren:
ejo, Richard Florida has well documented the correlation between gay-friendliness (and more generally, the 'creative class') and economic growth. I don't think it's the gays, per se, that drive that growth but rather that creative and productive people tend to be drawn to tolerant areas.
5.7.2008 6:10pm
ejo:
if you don't give me gay marriage, despite the fact it has never existed, I will hold my breath until I turn purple-shorthand for one of these days. I do love the contempt for the institution of marriage-that bodes well for society. further, is extending it to gays going to improve those stats or just further degrade the institution itself-I'll guess the latter given the behavior on display on a yearly basis at Chicago's gay rights parade. Has California's economy boomed? You didn't answer that question. How about San Francisco's?
5.7.2008 6:10pm
Virginian:

Can anyone provide a link to this decision? I'd like to read it, and the dissenting opinion, before commenting.


That's not how things work around here. Just jump right in with some uninformed opinions. Snark is optional.
5.7.2008 6:11pm
Thorley Winston (mail) (www):
Re: what the proponents of Proposition 2 said about State employee benefits:

Here’s what I’ve found on their website:


Q. Will unions or businesses be prohibited from negotiating contracts that offer benefits to same-sex partners of employees.

A. No. Nothing in Proposal 2 can reasonably be interpreted to interfere with the right of a union or private business to negotiate benefits with their employees. Proposal 2 only prohibits the legal recognition of same-sex unions by the state. The state of Michigan will be prohibited from providing benefits to same-sex partners of state employees if those benefits are provided based on marital status, as most are.

Q. Will public universities be prohibited from providing benefits to partners of employees?

A. Legal experts disagree on how much this may restrict public universities. The Michigan Constitution grants universities significant autonomy to govern themselves through their elected Boards. It is reasonable to assume that state funds will be prohibited from from going to same-sex partner benefits while other funding sources, such as tuition, fees or donations, will be allowed to pay for same-sex partner benefits.



FWIW
5.7.2008 6:18pm
Happyshooter:
I honestly think that if I worked with someone or lived near someone or knew someone that voted for the amendment, I would do bodily harm to such individual or vandalize his or her car or something similar.

I voted for it.

Strangely enough, I was working as a 'lawyer for bush' in overwhelming black polling places for the election. Many of those polls had not seen a GOP poll watcher for 20+ years.

One of the things we complained about was that the black pastors were being allowed to walk the line and voting booths giving instructions.

They weren't telling their flock to vote for dems, though. They were telling them to vote for the amendment.

I think you need to start with them. Maybe you could burn their churches and string up their pastors.

[for the humorless, the last sentence is sarcasm, the rest is true]
5.7.2008 6:18pm
Cornellian (mail):
Has California's economy boomed? You didn't answer that question. How about San Francisco's?

California is far better off economically than Michigan, and San Francisco is one of the most affluent cities in the United States.
5.7.2008 6:19pm
Oren:
(1) California has outperformed the rest of the country, San Fransisco doubly so (try to buy a house in Mountain View or Cuppertino, homes to Google and Apple, and tell me how it goes). In Mountain View, home prices went up 7% last quarter, in the middle of the housing crisis.

(2) I think trying to extend the wonderful benefits of marriage to all comers is the greatest honor we could bestow on the institution. If I had contempt for it, I would try to limit it as much as possible (e.g. overrule Loving).

(3) Massachussets is in the lowest 5 states for divorce, teen pregnancy and STDs in the country. That's probably because gay marriage eroded our values, eh? We've also proven that the sky does not fall when gays can marry and that somehow straight families are not reduced to begging in the streets. MA also has economic growth better than the national average.
5.7.2008 6:21pm
Happyshooter:
link:

link

I hope this works...
5.7.2008 6:22pm
Oren:
One of the things we complained about was that the black pastors were being allowed to walk the line and voting booths giving instructions.
I thought that was generally allowed, so long as you were talking to people you knew and not doing general electioneering. My ignorance of voting law . . .

Interestingly enough, while the black community has always been tepid (if not hostile) to gay rights, Obama seems to rack up 92% of their votes while still being quite LBGT friendly. I think that shows that antipathy to gay-rights in the black community is like the Mississippi river -- 1 mile wide and 5 feet deep.
5.7.2008 6:24pm
Oren:
I hope this works...
It did. FWIW, I think the Michigan Supremes did alright interpreting horridly vague language that should not have been allowed onto the ballot. I'm 100% pro citizen initiatives but they have to be written in a way that makes it clear what their outcome will be.
5.7.2008 6:26pm
Elais:

I've always thought from the beginning that gay marriage was about spousal benefits. If it weren't for the money angle, I wouldn't have a problem with it because what people do in private - as long as it doesn't affect me - is none of my business.


I thought heterosexual marriage was all about spousal benefits, no? Love and family need not be considered.
5.7.2008 6:32pm
ejo:
in Massachusetts, was gay marriage voter approved or imposed by Court? I seem to recall the pols working as hard as they could to keep it away from them-why is that, do you think. can you name me a state where gay marriage was a decision of voters? as to economic growth, I can correlate low tax rates with growth without much difficulty. can you correlate the immigration into or out of a state of homosexuals with growth? why are low tax sun belt allegedly bible thumper states doing well in terms of growth. if the answer is gay friendliness, I would be shocked. Sorry to point out the behavior of marchers at "Pride" parades but that's the public face of gay america.
5.7.2008 6:33pm
Perseus (mail):
unfortunately for them, this is the type of thing that generally scares many of those creative people and companies who depend on them away.

I take it, then, that all of those hip, progressive, and tolerant folk in places like Austin, TX are streaming out of "intolerant" states like Texas and Florida. And speaking of Florida, only Obama-loving Bobos believe Richard Florida's thesis.
5.7.2008 6:34pm
vassil petrov (mail):
I'm quite ignorant, but prima vista Romer v. Evans seems to forbid amendments like Michigan's. As to ballot initiatives, I don't think they are compatible with representative government or that they work. I can only accept People's Veto, i.e. the possibility of putting acts of legislatures already passed to a referendum on the initiative on certain number of voters.
5.7.2008 6:37pm
Oren:
As I recall, proponents of a ballot initiative to overrule the court's decision could not get 50/200 votes in the MA legislature to put it on the ballot. If there was wide support for such an initiative, you'd think that they could get at least 1 out of 4 representatives to support it.

Moreover, I think the MA experience proves (5 years on) that the sky will not fall and straight marriages will not collapse just because queers can tie the knot. I know that disappoints some people that expected Boston to be destroyed by fire and brimstone (or other suitable divine fury) but we're doing just fine.

I can (well, Richard Florida) can correlate the gay population of an area with economic growth (see "The Creative Class", for instance). I don't know about the relevance of homosexual immigration though.

Yes, you are right, gay pride parades are over-the-top and meant to be provocative. They do not do much to advance the cause of the vast majority of gays that want to live quiet, normal lives. Nevertheless, I can identify with their frustration and see how acting out, even in an adolescent way, can be a powerful statement about refusing to be pressured into conforming with sexual norms. My hope is that, as homosexuality becomes widely accepted (look at polls of 18-30 year olds for a clue on how the next decades are going to shape up), the need for these parades will diminish.
5.7.2008 6:39pm
Oren:
Except for the oil bust years, Houston contributed nearly 30 percent of growth, and Dallas– Fort Worth’s growth exceeded Houston’s by the late 1970s. San Antonio’s growth contribution held steady at 6 to 8 percent, while Austin’s doubled from 4.1 percent to 8.3 percent.
All of Texas did well, Austin did better than well.
5.7.2008 6:42pm
KeithK (mail):
vassil petrov:

It is an assault on democracy because it prevents the people of Michigan or simple majority (50%+1) thereof from changing in the future their mind about civil unions or gay marriage.


Yes. And the First Amendment is an assault on democracy because it prevents a simple majority from deciding that flag burning or hate speech are illegal. The 8th is an assault on democracy because it prevents a simple majority from deciding that we need to be able to torture child rapists. The 26th is because it prevents a majority from deciding that 18 year olds are not mature enough to vote.

Amending a constitution (state or federal) according to democratic processes is NOT an affront on democracy. it is democracy in action. The specific amendment may be a bad idea but democracy produces lots of bad ideas. Goes with the territory.
5.7.2008 6:46pm
Thorley Winston (mail) (www):
I'm quite ignorant, but prima vista Romer v. Evans seems to forbid amendments like Michigan's.


I’m not sure that’s the case. My understanding is that the amendment in Romer contained a provision which said (paraphrase) that it could never be changed by the legislature which ran afoul of the First Amendment’s protection of the right to petition the government. AFAIK, there is no such provision in Proposition 2 and the people of Michigan are free to change it through the normal process.
5.7.2008 7:05pm
Wahoowa:
This ridiculous discussion about whether a duly ratified constitutional amendment is an assault on democracy reminds me of an equally stupid theory I first heard in college and then read again when writing my student note: that a duly ratified constitutional amendment could somehow be unconstitutional.

The things people will think up to keep their pet issues alive . . .

anyway, whoever said it before is right--it's not an assault on democracy, it merely shows some of the pitfalls of democracy.
5.7.2008 7:08pm
One of these days...:
ejo, your shorthand is mistaken on one point. It's not that I'll hold my breath until I turn purple, but rather I'll wrap my hands around your throat until you do. As for your comments about marriage itself, I really couldn't care less if I'm welcome in some religious wackos church or not. There are plenty of churches where I can get married if I so desire, at least in a religious sense of the word. What I care about is when my partner and I have to pay double in taxes, when we can't afford private health insurance and can't get employer-based, when we aren't allowed to make medical decisions or even hospital visits, and other basic human dignities afforded to those who breed.
5.7.2008 7:13pm
JBL:
So does this invalidate agreements that extend benefits to a cohabiting partner (or any other individual) without reference to whether or not the relationship resembles marriage?

If it does, does it prohibit cohabitation in general outside of marriage? Would two people who are not married be allowed to have the same legal address? The State does, after all, recognize my address. It's on my State-issued ID.

There are zillions of things (joint accounts, powers of attorney, authorization to pick up kids from school) that tend to be associated with marriage but that are also common with other sorts of relationships.

I haven't read the decision, so I don't know if it clarifies the more general question of when something is sufficiently marriage-like to be unrecognisable by the State. The Amendment does not.
5.7.2008 7:22pm
Frog Leg (mail):
For the cites to the information given out by supporters during the election re:the effect of the law on contractual benefits, just see the opinion:


Thr majority considered such evidence irrelevant, while for the dissent it was determinative.
5.7.2008 7:24pm
Thorley Winston (mail) (www):

ejo, your shorthand is mistaken on one point. It's not that I'll hold my breath until I turn purple, but rather I'll wrap my hands around your throat until you do.


To all: I’ve emailed Professor Adler alerting him to this new poster’s latest comment. I would suggest not responding until Professor Adler has had a chance to weigh in.
5.7.2008 7:36pm
One of these days...:
After re-reading my above comment, I can see that such a comment might be construed as a specific threat against a specific individual. To clarify, the "you" in said comment was intended as a rhetorical and generic "you" rather than a specific (albeit anonymous internet-based!) you.
5.7.2008 7:49pm
Russ (mail):
One of These Days wishes to take by violence that which he could not win in an election. Isn't that how tyranny starts?

As to the decision, it was absolutely correct. It doesn't comment on whether or not gay marriage or civil union benefits are the right thing to do; it upholds the will of the voters in so denying.

A court upholding the will of the people...imagine that!
5.7.2008 7:52pm
One of these days...:
Russ makes a good point about tyranny. Unfortunately, when the majority uses its power to hurt the minority, and then the majority further uses its power to PREVENT the Courts from protecting the minority, what recourse is left to the minority? Suffer in silence? Gnash one's teeth and hold one's breath? Or knock out the teeth of the majority and take away the majority's breath?

I agree that the decision of the Court upheld the will of the voters. Of course the bigots knew exactly what they were voting for. The idea that said bigots were tricked is disingenuous -- why would making the amendment even more odious possibly be undesirable to hateful bigots?
5.7.2008 8:05pm
Randy R. (mail):
"So the answer to economic downturns is not tax cuts, increased government spending, regulation reform, or anything of the like. It is as simple as "lets find some more gays." Now that is profound."

Actually, there is a correlation. In the late 90s, some professor did a study of the cities or regions that were doing the best economically. The top ten included places such as Austin, SF, Boston, NYC, and so on. The bottom ten included places like Louisville, Buffalo, Detroit, and others.

Just a year or so after that study was published, the 2000 census came out. For the first time, officials were able to see where gay couples resided. (It proved, incidently, that gay couples exist in every single county in America). the places with the highest number of gay couples? Austin, SF, Boston, NYC. The places with the fewest gay couples? Buffalo, Detroit, Louisville and so on. There was almost a direct correlation.

Now, we all know that correlation does not mean causation, but the correlation was too strong up and down the line to dismiss it entirely. And this was the basis for Florida's book. Bottomline: the more open and gay friendly a city is, the more likely it is doing well econoically. Ohio, for instance, has a similar amendment, and it's not doing well at all right now.

ego: You really need to get out and meet actuall live homosexuals. We don't bite. But we usually bake a mean torte.
5.7.2008 8:05pm
Cornellian (mail):
Actually, there is a correlation. In the late 90s, some professor did a study of the cities or regions that were doing the best economically. The top ten included places such as Austin, SF, Boston, NYC, and so on. The bottom ten included places like Louisville, Buffalo, Detroit, and others.

I believe that professor is the Richard Florida referred to earlier in this thread.
5.7.2008 8:10pm
Wererabbit (mail):
Randy R.,

There is causation, but in the opposite direction. It is because those areas are economically affluent that they are gay-tolerant. People in more economically deprived areas are generally more angry at the world (bitter, to use Obama's panned word) and likely look curtail rights of people they view as Others.
5.7.2008 8:11pm
Randy R. (mail):
Kasinski: "Without coitus it is not a valid marriage and can be annulled 20 or more years later as never having happened. So while gay unions certainly are possible, and maybe desirable, gay marriage is not."

So your position is that marriage is all about the initial consummation? That's a rather odd position to take.

If I, a gay man, enter into a sham marriage with a lesbian, for instance, and we have no intention of having children and don't even like each other (let's say we married for the spousal benefits only. OR we got drunk one night a la Britney) and we have coitus, that's a valid marriage.

But if two gay men who have been together for years and have adopted children to raise together, and are deeply in love and get married in Massachusetts, that's not valid?

Silly me, I thought marriage was all about marrying the one person in your life that you wanted to spend the rest of your life, to care, nurture and cherish. I guess marriage vows should be changed to reflect your oddball notion, and have the couple promise to engage in coitus asap to validate the marriage.

How odd this all is: We gays are accused of debasing marriage, but it is alwyas just the heteros who keep reducing it to a mere sex act.

BTW, the NY Times magazine did a lead article on gay men who get married in their mid-20s. You have to read it to see just how threatening they are to your marriage!
5.7.2008 8:16pm
pete (mail) (www):

Just a year or so after that study was published, the 2000 census came out. For the first time, officials were able to see where gay couples resided. (It proved, incidently, that gay couples exist in every single county in America).


Really? Every county? Texas has several counties with populations under 500 people. Loving County had only 67 people in it according to the 2000 census with only 54 of them being adults. That does not prove that it had no gay couples in it, but according to its wikipedia article that looks statistically very unlikely.
5.7.2008 8:29pm
Jon Rowe (mail) (www):
Re: Creative class, Richard Florida's work is probably the best analysis showing gay friendliness to strongly correlate with creative business and urban flourishing. Some statistics (and anecdotal observations) show homosexuals to be on the cutting edge of creativity, and artistic achievement. Just look at how gays "fix up" houses and neighborhoods. Places like Detroit need more gays not less. On an entirely practical level this decision seems unwise.

I know that the religious right has a bad habit of exaggerating statistics (and in some notable cases outright lying, see Paul Cameron) so take the following with a grain of salt. In a column trying to show why gays don't need antidiscrimination protection one religious conservative inadvertently makes the case that homosexuals are civilizational superstars, a model minority out achieving both Jews and Asians. If this is what homosexuality yields, then arguably homosexuality is something society should nurture and cultivate. I doubt her figures are entirely accurate, but there probably is a kernel of truth in them that, on average, gays are more productive, creative and talented than straights, and hence the reason they tend to flourish in a capitalist system with many anti-gays in the populace. Jewish people face a similar dynamic. This is probably why businesses, not government, tend to be on the cutting edge of offering DP benefits.


"Economic data is irrefutable: The normative statistics for a homosexual in the USA include a Bachelor's degree: For gay men, the median household income is $83,000/yr. (Gay singles $62,000; gay couples living together $130,000), almost 80% above the median U.S. household income of $46,326, per census data. For lesbians, the median household income is $80,000/yr. (Lesbian singles $52,000; Lesbian couples living together $96,000); 36% of lesbians reported household incomes in excess of $100,000/yr. Compare that to the median income of the non-college educated Black male of $30,539. The data speaks for itself," she said.
5.7.2008 8:30pm
Smokey:
One of these days...:

After re-reading my above comment, I can see that such a comment might be construed as a specific threat against a specific individual. To clarify, the "you" in said comment was intended as a rhetorical and generic "you" rather than a specific (albeit anonymous internet-based!) you.
Ri-i-i-i-i-ght.
5.7.2008 8:39pm
One of these days...:
Oh please, the idea that I was seriously attempting to threaten an anonymous internet poster is even more idiotic than the idea that Michigan bigots didn't intend to be hateful and harmful.
5.7.2008 8:44pm
Perseus (mail):
Some criticisms of Richard Florida's thesis may be found in this Wikipedia article, which includes a link to a study that disputes the connection between the presence of homosexuals and urban high tech growth.
5.7.2008 8:44pm
Wahoowa:

when the majority uses its power to hurt the minority, and then the majority further uses its power to PREVENT the Courts from protecting the minority, what recourse is left to the minority? Suffer in silence? Gnash one's teeth and hold one's breath? Or knock out the teeth of the majority and take away the majority's breath?


Well, there's actually, ummm, you know, actually trying to convince people to vote for a change in the law. If you truly have the better argument, it will win out in the end. Marketplace of ideas and all that.
5.7.2008 8:49pm
elim:
I could probably find data to support that urban areas with high percentages of blacks are economically depressed. I would presume that means blacks cause economic desolation, right? would more gays and fewer blacks equal a boom? how, given the correlation, did communities have economic boom periods when gay marriage was just a dream to those who wanted to disrupt society.
5.7.2008 8:54pm
kdonovan:

d:
this is a state (my home state) that badly needs what many refer to as the "creative class." its economy is a wreck and it has tried to attract other industries, such as high tech. unfortunately for them, this is the type of thing that generally scares many of those creative people and companies who depend on them away.


Our firm considered expanding in MI - it was the tax code (including the new business tax that is brutal on labor intensive industries) that finished off that idea - we went to South Dakota instead.
5.7.2008 8:55pm
elim:
of the major metropolitan regions in the labor stats available online, SD had the lowest unemployment rates. gay friendly or racially non-diverse? low taxes or swinging gay pride parade? I am near Chicago, all sorts of gay friendly initiatives and an extremely high tax rate-wonder what the impact of that will be?
5.7.2008 9:13pm
Ex-Fed (mail) (www):
Hmmm - remember this?

Supporters of the amendment say it’s not their intention to take away domestic partner benefits and that it’s an argument raised to confuse voters.



Dishonest or deluded?
5.7.2008 9:18pm
Jon Rowe (mail) (www):

how, given the correlation, did communities have economic boom periods when gay marriage was just a dream to those who wanted to disrupt society.


Maybe those things occurred in spite of the stance society took towards gays. It's not blacks, but Jews who are the closest analogy to gays. Consider -- a society can be terribly anti-semitic and enshrine that hostility to Jews into its laws and policies -- drive all the Jews away -- and still flourish. But it's not because of its antisemitic policies, rather in spite of them. Likewise Japan flourishes with no Jews; but that doesn't destroy the point that Jewish people tend to do quite well in market oriented systems (and in law, academia, and many other areas of life) and a policy that would drive such disproportionate talent away from those areas would be foolish to say the least.
5.7.2008 9:19pm
Jmaie (mail):
California has had economic problems for a long time and it has more than its fair share of "creative" types

Yes, it's so bad here that only 1 in 9 Americans live here.


It's doing so well that the Governator is imposing a 10% funding cut on every department including schools. Many urban grades 4th and higher will have class sizes in the 32-35 range. That's not education - it's crowd control.

Full disclosure, life long CA native until 2003, will be moving back soon, love the place for all its faults.
****


It's not so much that gays drive economic growth (not to disregard their contribution, the film business being a star example). Rather they live in affluent areas, which tend to have more educated populations, which are more gay-friendly.


Re: Creative class, Richard Florida's work is probably the best analysis showing gay friendliness to strongly correlate with creative business and urban flourishing.

It makes sense that gays would prefer urban areas. Suburban sprawl attracts parents who want large houses with yards.

For a good example of urban flourishing caused by large gay populations, consider the Haight district of San Francisco. Place was a dump in the '70's. Gays moved in, refurbished the houses, made the place nice to look at (as long as you don't actually go down to Haight street). Property values skyrocketed.
5.7.2008 9:28pm
DeezRightWingNutz:
When I was a recent college grad I lived with a same-sex roommate who was a close friend, still in school, and without insurance. I kind of resented the fact that many companies offered benefits to people who were similarly situated but gay, dating and/or and having sex with eachother. I guess romantic love is different than agape, but I was at least as committed to my friend as one gay couple I knew who got domestic partner benefits.

As an aside, I don't know why Michigan gets such a bad rap as a high tax state, at least for individuals. Until a tax increase last year, the income tax rate was under 4% (up to ~5%) in some cities, and the sales tax rate (no local sales taxes) was 6% with numerous exemptions. Property taxes are usually around $2,000-$3,500 for a $200k homestead, depending upon jurisdiction.

Compared to many states with much higher income and sales tax rates, it seems fairly taxpayer friendly.
5.7.2008 9:56pm
DeezRightWingNutz:
I just want to clarify that I respect private companies right to design their benefit plans as they see fit, and I really don't care if the gov't offers same-sex parter benefits either.

The thing I didn't like is that, at least in my understanding, you had to be married to get opposite sex partner benefits. There are a lot of disincentives to getting a sham marriage for benefits, but no so many for claiming a friend as a "domestic partner."

Anyone know if marriage is generally required by employers to get domestic partner benefits for someone of the opposite sex? That's what I was told, but I've never been privy to their corporate handbooks.
5.7.2008 10:03pm
Jon Rowe (mail) (www):
DeezRightWingNutz,

Then why didn't you just pretend that your roommate was your "domestic partner"? Don't like the idea that folks will wonder how much $$ you might spend on "Astroglide?"
5.7.2008 10:18pm
Oren:
DRWN, most places will take you on your word for domestic partner benefits because there's no profit in investigating further. If you are willing to defraud your employer, there are many more effective way to go about it.

Dishonest or deluded?
I'm going to go on a limb and not attribute to malice that which can be explained by incompetence. The writers just don't know how to draft good law.
5.7.2008 10:18pm
Cornellian (mail):
It's doing so well that the Governator is imposing a 10% funding cut on every department including schools. Many urban grades 4th and higher will have class sizes in the 32-35 range. That's not education - it's crowd control.

Most states would kill for revenues 90% of the size of California's even on a per capita basis.
5.7.2008 10:28pm
kdonovan:

DeezRightWingNutz:
One of these days...

As an aside, I don't know why Michigan gets such a bad rap as a high tax state, at least for individuals. Until a tax increase last year, the income tax rate was under 4% (up to ~5%) in some cities, and the sales tax rate (no local sales taxes) was 6% with numerous exemptions. Property taxes are usually around $2,000-$3,500 for a $200k homestead, depending upon jurisdiction.

Compared to many states with much higher income and sales tax rates, it seems fairly taxpayer friendly.


It's the business taxes (not personal) that are incredibly high. It's not even the nominal corporate rate so much as what the effective tax rate you will pay will be if you do business there. Doing business in MI would have increased our labor costs (compared to other Midwestern states such as SD and WI) by close to 10% due to the new business tax.

MI's tax structure (and it's generally inept government) is far more effective at keeping business out of the state than any boycott effect of the anti gay marriage amendment.
5.7.2008 10:29pm
Oren:
MI's tax structure (and it's generally inept government) is far more effective at keeping business out of the state than any boycott effect of the anti gay marriage amendment.
I think it's inevitable that UofM will have to stop giving traditional marriage benefits to conform with their charters. I get the feeling that will scare the voter straight (or gay).
5.7.2008 10:37pm
Thorley Winston (mail) (www):

Hmmm - remember this?

Supporters of the amendment say it’s not their intention to take away domestic partner benefits and that it’s an argument raised to confuse voters.


Dishonest or deluded?


I’m not sure what you’re referring to. I posted a link earlier to the actual FAQ by one of the main groups promoting Proposition 2 and they were rather clear that they thought it would prohibit the use of State funds for domestic benefits that were based on marital status but there was nothing that would prohibit private companies from offering it to their employees.

What you’ve posted is rather vague as far as what specifically it’s referring to (public or private domestic partner benefits) and isn’t actually a quote from the supporters. So I’m not sure it really works as evidence that a group is “[d]ishonest or deluded” to use a vague statement that wasn’t actually uttered by them against them.
5.7.2008 11:13pm
Perseus (mail):
There's a major multicollinearity problem in Florida's analysis since the presence of homosexuals, college graduates, and population size are all correlated with each other. In Terry Clark's statistical analysis, once you control for this and use a larger sample of cities, the effect of the presence of gays/diversity/social tolerance becomes small or insignificant, a finding about which he was "surprised, (and disappointed, to be frank)."
5.7.2008 11:15pm
Oren:
Perseus, Clark's work doesn't tell you which caused which. Perhaps gays go to college more often than straights or perhaps colleges make people more gay -- that changes the analysis of whether gays increase or decrease economic prosperity. Florida certainly overstates his evidence but I don't think Clark's analysis really rebuts it as much as it offers plausible alternative explanations.

I prefer to think of it in the negative: what we've learned from San Fransisco is that acceptance of gays does not cause the collapse of society. Living Massachusetts will likewise disabuse you of the notion that legalizing gay marriage will cause straight families to collapse or children to start going out of control. Given the horrible things that are attributed to the "homosexual agenda", I think its sufficient to rebut them without claiming the benefits that Florida claims.
5.7.2008 11:24pm
David M. Nieporent (www):
Anyone know if marriage is generally required by employers to get domestic partner benefits for someone of the opposite sex? That's what I was told, but I've never been privy to their corporate handbooks.
I got domestic partner benefits from my wife's employer before we were married. The only difference between what we got and married couples got was that my benefits were taxed because we weren't married, but that's a matter of law, not company policy.
5.7.2008 11:26pm
Ak:
"I prefer to think of it in the negative: what we've learned from San Fransisco is that acceptance of gays does not cause the collapse of society."

I think the idea of heading towards a San Francisco-like culture is probably more of an incentive for many people to vote against gay marriage, not for it.
5.7.2008 11:59pm
Whatever you want it to be:
DeezRightWingNutz:

Regarding domestic partner benefits to gays but not straights, I believe that's the way it is here at the U of Iowa and that's the way it is in a lot of other places too. My fiancee was a university employee and we talked about getting me on her health insurance, but she investigated and was told since I was a man that wasn't possible.

A new question--assuming you don't have a Michigan amendment, is a situation like this an Equal Protection violation?
5.8.2008 12:05am
Thorley Winston (mail) (www):

Anyone know if marriage is generally required by employers to get domestic partner benefits for someone of the opposite sex?


We have a woman where I work who lives with her boyfriend and says she was able to get him listed on her health insurance as a domestic partner.
5.8.2008 12:11am
Oren:
WYWITB, yes, benefits should be offered to domestic partners irrespective of their sexual orientation. I have no problem with a "seriousness" test (not every one-night-stand deserves health insurance) so long as it is neutral in this respect.
5.8.2008 12:13am
Skyler (mail) (www):
What a great decision. No matter whether anyone likes the result or not, it's refreshing to see a court actually read the letter of the law.

I've often said that if the United States passed an amendment that the Supreme Court disagreed with, they'd simply declare it unconstitutional by some hook or crook. This decision gives me hope that our jurists can actually follow the law.
5.8.2008 12:24am
good strategy (mail):
"Sorry to point out the behavior of marchers at "Pride" parades but that's the public face of gay america."

Strange then all the resistance to recognizing gay relationships, or acknowledging that homosexual orientation is not a choice. It seems like people prefer holding onto this caricature of gay people -- I guess it validates their prejudices.

In either case I disagree. The public face of gay America has changed from being an alien subculture to being the boy next door, or nephew, or classmate, or daughter.

Have you ever been to a pride parade? Because what you see on TV is the most outrageous bit of the lot. I wonder why...

Of course, as politics, the visuals stink, but it doesn't help when the TV folks pick out the most over the top example they can find.

I've been to the San Francisco pride parade once, in 2004, with plenty of Dykes on Bikes and others I consider odd but completely harmless. But then came the couples. Hundreds of couples. "Together 24 years" "Together 7 years" "Together 10 years" Many of them had been married by the city (since rescinded). They got -- by FAR -- the biggest ovation of the day (there was a million people in town that day) with the possible exception of Gavin Newsom. And they kept coming, and coming, and coming, overwhelming the oddballs in numbers and respect.

This is the new normal. The MI SC got the law right, I'm afraid, but that law is on the wrong side of history.

PS: among educated younger people and the "creative class," being tolerant or gay-friendly is a proxy for not being a closed minded asshole. However, people in those demographic groups have had enough interaction with gay people to know that the fearmongering was empty in the first place, and don't necessarily approve of gay marriage. Still, I think as a general rule if you have had occasion to get to know a decent # of gay people, you'd find a range of people, some annoying, some admirable, and you'd have no excuse for jumping on the bigot bandwagon or actually thinking the pride parade is the public face of gay America. Really.
5.8.2008 12:56am
Randy R. (mail):
"Really? Every county? Texas has several counties with populations under 500 people."

Well, I was surprised to read it too. But the source was a Washington Post article, part of a series that analyzed the census. Just goes to show you, we are everywhere, even if we seem to be invisible.

Oren makes a good point, however. OF course, as I stated earlier, correlation does not necessarily mean causation. But on the other hand, communities that are accepting of gays and allow some form of domestic partnership or even civil unions don't collapse. Vermont, Connecticut and New Jersey all allow civil unions. Massachusetts, Canada, Spain, the Netherlands and Belgium all allow full gay marriage. Cities such as Washington, DC, Austin, TX, Miami, LA, SF, Chicago, St. Louis, are all very gay friendly and accomodating to gays, both in law and in society overall. None of these places can be regarded as disasters. They are not Detroit or Flint. So at the least, Oren is correct -- acceptance of gays causes no harm to the community, but in fact can be a great boon.

You don't see Christian evangecals rehabbing homes in the historic districts. It's usually led by gays. You simply cannot have good theater or opera without gay support, gay people on stage and backstage and in administration.

Sure, Texas overall is doing very well, and overall they are not terribly friendly to gays. But have you every seen the average Texan hairdo? Not pretty. If they had better hairdressers, the women might actually gain a degree of sophistication.
5.8.2008 1:10am
Randy R. (mail):
Regarding that correlation, the best studies were not able to state that if you are welcoming to gay people, then you have a booming economy. That smacks of simplistic thinking, and I agree.

Rather, they argued that perhaps communities that are open minded, willing to take risks, artistic, well educated, and populated with young people, are more willing to be welcoming to gay people. In other words, gay people are just part of the mix for a rising economy. New and different viewpoints are often needed to build a better mousetrap, and gays often have viewpoints that are different from the mainstream.

People who are provincial, closed minded, inability to adapt to changin circumstances, intolerant, unwilling to take risks, uneducated -- these are NOT the criteria for building any vibrant economy or community. Gays are not welcome in these places because of prejudices (and make no mistake, it's simply a prejudice, and an unwarranted one at that).
5.8.2008 1:17am
Cornellian (mail):
People who are provincial, closed minded, inability to adapt to changin circumstances, intolerant, unwilling to take risks, uneducated -- these are NOT the criteria for building any vibrant economy or community. Gays are not welcome in these places because of prejudices (and make no mistake, it's simply a prejudice, and an unwarranted one at that).

Or, as Garrison Keillor once so aptly put it, there's a reason why the iPod was designed in California, not Alabama.
5.8.2008 1:21am
ReaderY:
The decision is worded the way it is because its authors intended to reverse the Michigan Supreme Court Baiz vs. Hoffius decision and re-instate the opinion of the Court of Appeals:

http://caselaw.lp.findlaw.com/scripts/getcase.pl? court=mi&vol=supreme\122298\mccready&invol=2

And quite frankly, the Michigan voters knew it. The issue of the wording affecting the creation of local domestic partnerships and benefits was pointed out and got a lot of coverage.
5.8.2008 1:42am
Randy R. (mail):
"Still, I think as a general rule if you have had occasion to get to know a decent # of gay people, you'd find a range of people, some annoying, some admirable, and you'd have no excuse for jumping on the bigot bandwagon or actually thinking the pride parade is the public face of gay America. Really."

Well said, Good Strategy. Basing your opinions on gays based on a few snippets from a pride parade makes as much sense as basing your opinion on American girls based on "Girls Gone Wild."

However, some people have deep seated prejudices, and they enjoy having their prejudices confirmed, not challenged.
5.8.2008 2:13am
vassil petrov (mail):
KeithK:


Yes. And the First Amendment is an assault on democracy because it prevents a simple majority from deciding that flag burning or hate speech are illegal. The 8th is an assault on democracy because it prevents a simple majority from deciding that we need to be able to torture child rapists. The 26th is because it prevents a majority from deciding that 18 year olds are not mature enough to vote.

The difference between the Bill of Rights amendments and Michigan marriage amendment is that while the first are intended and have the effect of protecting the individual from governmental or majoritarian opression, the latter is nothing but an instrument thereof.

Amending a constitution (state or federal) according to democratic processes is NOT an affront on democracy. it is democracy in action. The specific amendment may be a bad idea but democracy produces lots of bad ideas. Goes with the territory.

Maybe, if you think that damocracy equals unlimited government by the current majority of the people.
5.8.2008 2:32am
Perseus (mail):
Or, as Garrison Keillor once so aptly put it, there's a reason why the iPod was designed in California, not Alabama.

I despise Apple's products, especially their aesthetics. But setting that aside, I really question whether the thesis is really true particularly if one considers economically dynamic but socially conformist/homogeneous Asian countries.
5.8.2008 2:37am
Cornellian (mail):
I despise Apple's products, especially their aesthetics. But setting that aside, I really question whether the thesis is really true particularly if one considers economically dynamic but socially conformist/homogeneous Asian countries.

Apple is hardly the only example.

I'm skeptical whether this type of reasoning can really apply to Asian countries, they're just too culturally different. They might be more socially conformist than the US, but they're also far more homogenous and have neither the Christian nor Puritan traditions that we have.

I do recall reading a story once about Google. The father of one of the founders is a Russian Jew and math professor who left Russia because, as he said, he didn't think his son, being Jewish, would ever be able to get a fair deal in Russia. So he came to Northern California with his family and his son ended up founding Google, right here in California. There's a lesson there for the people of Russia and, for that matter, the people of Michigan. We here in California care about what you can do and we don't need to know your backstory - everyone's got one and it doesn't matter. So from our point of view, the Michigan development is a good thing - yet another measure helping California maintain its dominance in the high value added industries.
5.8.2008 2:56am
Kazinski:
Randy R.

Silly me, I thought marriage was all about marrying the one person in your life that you wanted to spend the rest of your life, to care, nurture and cherish.


Where did you get that idea? Marriage originated and still mainly exists as a economic unit that is structured to efficiently raise children and manage the transition of property to children. It had nothing to do with love until very recently in human history. I think that marriage's origins probably started with agricultural societies as method for men to lay solid claim to their offspring to insure access to their labor when they were old enough to provide it.

As to my "rather odd position to take" (heh, good pun), that a marriage isn't valid without being consummated with coitus, I didn't make it up it has been part of marriage for thousands of years across hundreds of cultures.

And please until I make the argument that gay marriage threatens traditional marriage, don't attribute that argument to me. My primary argument against gay marriage is it does not fit the definition of marriage, and if you change the definition of marriage then it is no longer marriage, but something different using the same name. Its as absurd as calling soccer football.

The other argument is that the primary purpose of marriage is an economic unit for raising children and attributing parentage, and since gay couples can not have children together, then there is no need for them to marry.
5.8.2008 5:49am
Skyler (mail) (www):

And please until I make the argument that (insert any issue), don't attribute that argument to me

I have to say that this type of accusatory leap is all too common on this blob among its commenters. For a bunch of supposed lawyers, a lot of people don't bother to respond to actual arguments. But then, that's what they teach in law school nowadays.
5.8.2008 10:51am
Randy R. (mail):
Kasinski: "As to my "rather odd position to take" (heh, good pun), that a marriage isn't valid without being consummated with coitus, I didn't make it up it has been part of marriage for thousands of years across hundreds of cultures. "


You are correct only with regards to the dissolution of a marriage. If it has not been consummated, that is *ground* for annullment, but not a requirement that the marriage be ended.

No state would requires examinations of all betrothed to make sure they can physically consummate the marriage. If you were correct, then surely the state would want some evidence that the couple are able to consummate the marriage, and in order to maintain its validity, require proof (probably in the form of an affidavit) that it has been consummated within a period of time. Again, no state requires that.

Additionally, if you are correct, then you would deny marriage to any person who is incapable of consummation. That would include physically handicapped people, soldiers who were injured in war and so on. Do you really mean that? If you were correct, there would be laws stating that these people cannot get married.

The act of anulling a marriage because of non-consummation requires that at least one party wants out of the marriage. We know for a fact that there are plenty of marriages which are NOT consummated, yet remain valid in the eyes of the state. (Such as soldiers returning from war who had their genitals blown off). History also tells us this -- King Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette didn't consummate their marriage for about eight years, and tout le monde knew it. Are you suggesting that their marriage wasn't valid until they did? No one else in Europe, including church, would agree with you.

"The other argument is that the primary purpose of marriage is an economic unit for raising children and attributing parentage, and since gay couples can not have children together, then there is no need for them to marry."

On the contrary, gay couples have been adopting children by the hoards in the last few decades. Those children deserve to have married parents, just as adopted children of heteros do. Or are you suggesting that hetero couples who adopt children are not deserving of marriage either? Furthermore, lesbians are able to bear children, so at least one parent is of the blood, and the other parent is the adoptee.

"Marriage originated and still mainly exists as a economic unit that is structured to efficiently raise children and manage the transition of property to children."

Again, if this were true, then the state would require all married people to have children, or the marriage is dissolved.

Look, you can argue all you want about the purpose of marriage. The fact is that people get married for all sorts of reasons. If you got married solely for the money, and love had nothing to do with it, great! But other people get married solely because they love the other person. Others, it might be a mix. Some people have arranged marriages. All these are valid in the eyes of the law.

The only things a state requires for marriage is two people who agree to get married, a bit of information about themselves, and a fee. You don't even have to have met each other! All these nonsense that you have to have children, or sex in a certain, is irrelevant, because no matter how you answer those questions, the bottomline is that the marriage is still valid.

We want the marriage license and are happy to provide exactly the same things that YOU have to provide: an agreement to marry, some information, and a fee. Nothing more, nothing less. You say that you don't feel your marriage would be threatened, but you are indeed threatened because of this supposed change in the definition of marriage. Well, go to Canada, Spain, MA, Belgium and the Netherlands, and see if marriage has been harmed in any way because they changed the definition there. Get back to me when you have some evidence.
5.8.2008 11:16am
Cornellian (mail):
Its as absurd as calling soccer football.

You definitely need a better analogy.
5.8.2008 11:20am
Cornellian (mail):
Its as absurd as calling soccer football.

You definitely need a better analogy.
5.8.2008 11:20am
Randy R. (mail):
Yeah, since in Britain what we call soccer, they call football. I guess they changed the name, and yet somehow, the sport still survives.
5.8.2008 12:07pm