Michigan's recently enacted anti-same-sex-marriage amendment reads:
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.
According to the Detroit News (Oct. 27, 2004), the amendment's chief supporters said it was just about marriage, not about domestic partner benefits and the like:
"Same-sex marriage is illegal (in Michigan) and will remain against the law after the election," said [Dana House, political direct for the anti-proposition forces]. "However, there are some folk who seem to want to distract the voters by talking about same-sex marriage so that they can take away domestic partner benefits and actually change the definition of marriage. Our job is to alert the voters to that risk. It will have the same affect on heterosexual couples." . . .
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."
However, now the amendment is in fact being used to challenge domestic partner benefits:
As opponents of Proposal 2 predicted, the constitutional amendment approved by Michigan voters last November to define marriage is being used to challenge same-sex benefits provided to partners of gay public employees. . . .
The Ann Arbor-based Thomas More Law Center and 17 taxpayers are asking the Michigan Court of Appeals to stop the local school district from providing medical benefits to gay couples. In court papers, they cite the November constitutional amendment known as Proposal 2, which says the union between a man and a woman "shall be the only agreement recognized as a marriage or similar union for any purpose." The lawsuit was filed in 2003, before Proposal 2 passed, but the Thomas More Law Center wants the constitutional amendment considered in its appeal. . . .
Now it may well be that the More Center will lose, and the amendment will be interpreted the way Ms. Hemphill predicted. And it may well be that the agenda of the More Center is indeed broader than that of Citizens for the Protection of Marriage. Nonetheless, the language of Amendment 2 is potentially broad enough that it may well have the effect the More Center urges, and that Citizens for the Protection of Marriage pooh-poohed. So just a reminder that voters and other observers need to look at the text of the provision, and not be lulled by the disclaimers by the provision's backers.
For an example of a similar phenomenon, but from the opposite directions, see my "Phyllis Schlafly Said It Would Be Like This" post.
Related Posts (on one page):
- Michigan Supreme Court Domestic Partner Benefits Decision Available Online,
- Michigan Marriage Amendment Nixes Domestic Partners Benefits:
- Ohio Court Interprets Its State Anti-Same-Sex Marriage Amendment:
- Anti-Same-Sex-Marriage Being Used to Challenge Non-Marriage Benefits: