Report Looks at Michigan’s Gay Marriage Ban and the Lessons that Can Be Learned from It


The Center for American Progress–a liberal/centrist think-tank–has released a new report that examines the 2004 ballot initiative that banned gay marriage in Michigan.

The report is titled “The Faithful Divide Over Wedding Vows: A Profile of Michigan’s 2004 Battle Over Marriage Equality” and it takes a comprehensive look at how opponents of gay marriage were able to wage a successful campaign to ban the practice in Michigan. The report looks at the organizing on both sides of the debate to draw lessons that progressives in Michigan and other states can use to inform future organizing.

The report looks at the 7 ballot committees that supported the measure, fundraising efforts on behalf of the ban, and the role that various religious groups played in building support for the amendment. It’s an exhaustive look at the issue that provides some critical analysis and understanding of why the amendment passed.

Given how long it has been since the proposal passed, the most important part of the report are its recommendations for future organizing. Based on its analysis, the Center for American Progress recommends that LGBT advocates build relationships with progressive faith leaders to challenge the anti-gay religious monopoly, that whole denominations not be entirely written off, and that the message of LGBT rights should be framed in a mainstream way. In addition, the report argues that the campaign against Proposal 2 was limited by an ineffective media and organizing campaign.

As always, there is good reason to be skeptical of portions of their analysis, but it’s worth considering, especially with talk about a possible effort aimed at reversing the ban.


Author: mediamouse

Grand Rapids independent media //

3 thoughts on “Report Looks at Michigan’s Gay Marriage Ban and the Lessons that Can Be Learned from It”

  1. part of Michigan’s ban against marriage-like contracts violates article 1 Section 10 in the US constution

    where it says:

    or law impairing the obligation of contracts,

  2. Section 10. No state shall enter into any treaty, alliance, or confederation; grant letters of marque and reprisal; coin money; emit bills of credit; make anything but gold and silver coin a tender in payment of debts; pass any bill of attainder, ex post facto law, OR LAW IMPAIRING THE OBLIGATION OF CONTRACTS, or grant any title of nobility.

  3. @ Brandon,

    It would be wonderful if the obligations clause automatically overturned the ban against gay marriage. Unfortunately, I don’t think it’s that cut-and-dried.

    The obligations clause was originally put into the Constitution to address, specifically, economic contracts, particularly those related to debtors and the imprisonment of debtors, and also to address the handling of bills of attainder. In the early days of the nation, Justice Marshall applied the clause broadly in Supreme Court decisions to rein in states’ rights to address things like public land grants.

    But today, the Supreme Court is mainly silent on the obligations clause, because the general consensus is that states have the right to regulate their own economic systems.

    I don’t think this clause has ever been applied by any high court decision to private contracts, like a marriage contract. That’s not saying it couldn’t be, because the law is a fluid thing, but given the history of how it’s been applied, it seems unlikely.

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