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-Frequently Asked Questions-
What percentage of a general vote is required for the passage of a state constitutional amendment?

Only a simple majority 50% of the vote + 1 is required for acceptance of an amendment into the state constitution.
Is same-sex marriage legal in Michigan?

No, Michigan already has two laws that prevent same-sex couples from marrying. Same-sex marriage is against the law in Michigan.
How would passage of the amendment to the state constitution impact civil unions within Michigan? How would it impact employers currently offering domestic partner benefits?

Passage of Proposal 2 would permanently BAN ALL CIVIL UNIONS or domestic partnerships for unmarried Michigan couples – gay OR straight.

The amendment would prohibit Michigan from having civil unions between same-sex and opposite sex couples. It would prevent local governments from providing domestic partner benefits. Cities like Ann Arbor and Kalamazoo, which currently provide such benefits to their employees could no longer do so. The amendment would prevent school districts from offering domestic partner benefits to its employees (both Ann Arbor and Birmingham school districts currently provide such benefits). State colleges and universities would also be prohibited from recognizing domestic partners of both employees and students. Recognition of domestic partners by employers frequently includes health care coverage. Children who live with a gay or lesbian family member will be at risk for losing health care coverage. (pridesource.com)
How could the passage of Proposal 2 affect Michigan laws regarding discrimination based on marital status?

Michigan civil rights laws currently prohibit discrimination based on marital status. This protection could be nullified by the constitutional amendment, making it legal for landlords to refuse to rent to unmarried couples, both gay and straight. (pridesource.com)
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What, Exactly, Is Marriage?

Marriage Is
• Ultimately, civil marriage is a basic civil right as well as a private and public commitment of love and support by adult couples.
• In personal terms, marriage is a celebration of love and commitment.
• It means others can recognize the commitment the couple has made to one another.
• The choice of whether or not to marry is a personal decision.

Yet civil marriage also provides a gateway to over 1,000 federal protections, responsibilities and benefits as well as many more provided by your state. It lets a spouse make decisions about the medical care of a partner who is disabled. It enables the couple to organize their financial affairs as a single unit for economic, tax and insurance purposes.

Marriage Isn’t
• Marriage is not about procreation. Millions of couples choose not to or are unable to have children.
•Marriage is not an institution chosen by every couple.

Marriage is not a religious institution, but a civil one. Although churches and synagogues do perform religious ceremonies, the government distinguishes the religious from the civil by requiring the signing of a marriage certificate, if that is what the couple chooses to do.

Religious and Civil Marriage: The Difference

In the U.S., a marriage is only legal with the signing of a marriage license. That is why many couples can go to a judge or any other public officiant and need not go to a church, synagogue or mosque. However, our government has made the process simpler by allowing priests, ministers, rabbis and other religious folk, to perform a couple's desire for a religious ceremony AND act as an officiant. This convenience does not mean that a purely religious ceremony would be legal. Each religious cleric must sign the license before witnesses and the couple. (marriageequality.org)
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Without an amendment, will churches be forced to perform ceremonies for same-sex couples?

Absolutely not. Churches retain the right to decide for themselves whether to perform or recognize any marriage, just as they already do for every couple. No court decision or legislative enactment can change the basic tenets of religious faith. For example, some religions will not marry someone who has already been divorced, although the person is free to marry civilly. (marriageequality.org)
If Proposal 2 passes and the amendment becomes a part of the state constitution, it can easily be removed or altered later, correct?

No. To get a sense of how difficult it can be to strip out discrimination once it’s been written into a state constitution, take a look at Alabama. Voters there didn’t vote to take out their ban on interracial marriage until 2000, 33 years after the U.S. Supreme Court had declared such bans unconstitutional. (Deb Price/ Detroit News)
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How many rights and benefits are related to civil marriage?

Legal marriage conveys upon the couple a wide variety of rights and responsibilities. Because each state creates its own set of marriage laws, the laws number between 170-to-350 depending on the state. Within the Federal system, more than 1,049 laws are triggered by legal marriage.

In 1997, the General Accounting Office of the Federal Government compiled a list of 1,049 rights and benefits, which were related to civil marriage. This list encompasses thirteen categories of rights and benefits, including:
•Social Security and Related Programs, Housing, and Food Stamps •Veterans' Benefits
•Taxation • Federal Civilian and Military Service Benefits
• Employment Benefits and Related Laws • Immigration, Naturalization, and Aliens
• Trade, Commerce, and Intellectual Property • Financial Disclosure and Conflict of Interest

The following lists some of the typical rights conferred by the state and federal governments.
State-Granted Legal Marriage Rights
• Assumption of Spouse’s Pension • Automatic Inheritance
• Automatic Housing Lease Transfer • Bereavement Leave
• Burial Determination • Child Custody
• Crime Victim’s Recovery Benefits • Divorce Protections
• Domestic Violence Protection • Exemption from Property Tax on Partner’s Death
• Immunity from Testifying Against Spouse • Insurance Breaks
• Joint Adoption and Foster Care • Joint Bankruptcy
• Joint Parenting (Insurance Coverage, School Records) • Medical Decisions on Behalf of Partner
• Certain Property Rights • Reduced Rate Memberships
• Sick Leave to Care for Partner • Visitation of Partner’s Children
• Visitation of Partner in Hospital or Prison • Wrongful Death (Loss of Consort) Benefits

A couple married by a state government is automatically granted a broad range of rights at the federal level. In addition, marriage partners of federal employees, such as civil servants and members of the military, enjoy a broad range of benefits.
Federally-Granted Legal Marriage Rights
• Access to Military Stores • Assumption of Spouse’s Pension
• Bereavement Leave • Immigration
• Insurance Breaks • Medical Decisions on Behalf of Partner
• Sick Leave to Care for Partner • Social Security Survivor Benefits
• Sick Leave to Care for Partner • Tax Breaks
• Veteran’s Discounts • Visitation of Partner in Hospital or Prison
(Partners Task Force)
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Why Should Society Allow Same-Sex Couples to Marry?

• If society cares about all its children, gay and lesbian couples should be allowed to protect them in a way that ONLY civil marriage allows.
• September 11th proved that the inability to enter into a civil marriage could cause greater grief in a time of tragedy. More than one year later, grieving partners are still battling for property and insurance claims just because they could not marry.
• The marriage of two adults of the same sex who seek to make a lifetime commitment to one another takes nothing away from the marriages of anyone else.
• Legal marriage strengthens commitment—commitment is what makes a marriage
• Supported couples make better contributions to society.
• The movement for marriage equality of same-sex couples is actually a recognition of the importance and power of marriage (marriageequality.org)
Wouldn’t same-sex civil marriages be psychologically unsound for the country?

No. The position adopted by the American Psychological Association Council of Representatives deploring discrimination and supporting marriage rights can be viewed here:
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What other impact could passage of Proposal 2 have on Michigan?

The proposed amendment will cost the state money and jobs.

Michigan ranks number 2, as having the most young people move out of the state following graduation from high school and college. Michigan's unemployment rate, currently at 7.2%, is higher than the national average (6.2%). Our state currently has a billion dollar deficit, coupled with decreasing tax revenues. Governor Granholm's recent "Creating Cool Conference" concluded that Michigan must embrace diversity and show tolerances towards gays, immigrants, and artists in order to revitalize Michigan's urban areas and to attract talent, creativity, and jobs. According to Richard Florida, author of The Rise of the Creative Class, "Gay families are important and the fact is that we can't afford to discriminate against anybody. It hurts employment, which hurts development and all other civic progress." (pridesource.com)
Who is the primary financial backer of Proposal 2 and the push for the amendment?

A number of churches and religious groups support the gay marriage amendment. The Catholic Church has donated about half of the $1 million raised by the Citizens for the Protection of Marriage campaign, which supports Proposal 2. All Catholic dioceses in Michigan have contributed, ranging from $270,000 from the Archdiocese of Detroit to $20,000 from the Diocese of Marquette. (Associated Press) Checkout the full article on the INJUSTICE page.
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Why should gays be allowed to marry?

George Washington was speaking directly to the issue of civil rights when, in 1790, he said, "As Mankind becomes more liberal, they will be more apt to allow that all those who conduct themselves as worthy members of the community are equally entitled to the protections of civil government. I hope ever to see America among the foremost nations of justice and liberality." (Thom Hartmann/commondreams.org)
Would Same Sex Marriage Lead to Polygamy?

Banning Gay Marriage 'Would Help Polygamists'
by 365Gay.com Newscenter Staff
Posted: October 13, 2004 12:01 am ET
(Salt lake City, Utah) Same-sex couples got some unexpected support Tuesday from a group that fights polygamy.
One of the arguments used by conservative groups which support amending the Utah constitution to ban same-sex unions has been that allowing gay marriage would open the floodgates of polygamy.

The issue of multiple spouses is an area of concern in predominantly Mormon Utah. Small breakaway Mormon sects still practice polygamy despite efforts by the state to break up the practice.

But, Tuesday a group called Tapestry Against Polygamy which helps in the prosecution of polygamists, said that the proposed amendment would actually give people who practice it a legal loophole to avoid going to court.

The amendment says: ''Marriage consists only of the legal union between a man and a woman. No other domestic union, however denominated, may be recognized as a marriage or given the same or substantially equivalent effect.''

Tapestry Against Polygamy Executive Director Vicky Prunty said the language is too vague, especially the second part of the proposed amendment because it could invalidate domestic unions for heterosexuals.

Polygamists usually only get marriage certificates for their first marriage, any additional marriage is considered a domestic union. The state then prosecutes claiming that the domestic unions are de facto marriages and therefore polygamy.

Prunty said that if the proposed amendment passes polygamists would have a constitutional argument. Since the state could not recognize those domestic unions as marriages it could not prosecute them under laws disavowing multiple marriages.

Each of the three men vying to become Utah's attorney general have also called on voters to reject the proposed amendment.

The three have differing views on whether or not gays should be allowed to marry, but they do agree on one thing: The proposed amendment goes too far.
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What is the history of the Pledge of Allegiance?

The convoluted history of the Pledge of Allegiance reveals a great deal about the nation's fears, strengths and prejudices.

Twenty-six states now require the pledge of allegiance to be recited in public schools. Some states require schools to reflect on the history and meaning of that pledge. Reflection would be instructive, since the story of the pledge reveals the fears and strengths of this nation.

At the end of the 19th century, millions of immigrants poured into a country beset with social unrest. Many people believed America needed some symbol to tie the nation's peoples together. The first widely used pledge of allegiance was written by a Colonel Balch of New York. It was a simple pledge of fealty and devotion: "I give my heart and my hand to my country -- one country, one language, one flag."

In 1892, Francis Bellamy, an ordained Baptist minister who had been booted out of his Boston church because of his fiery socialist sermons, composed a pledge that expressed loyalty not only to a nation but to an idea: "Liberty and justice for all."

"I pledge Allegiance to my Flag, the Republic for which it stands, one nation, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all." (Bellamy added the word "to" before "the Republic" a few days after the Pledge's first publication in Youth's Companion in September 1892.)

According to John W. Baer, author of "The Pledge of Allegiance: A Centennial History, 1892-1992," Bellamy wanted to add the word "equality" to the Pledge but was "mindful of the social climate regarding women and minorities."
In 1892, President Benjamin Harrison urged all schools to adopt the Pledge. Many did.

After World War I, millions of immigrants who had been unable to travel to the U.S. during the conflict again landed on our shores, sparking a xenophobic reaction that resulted in, for the first time, sharp limits on immigration. Organizations like the American Legion and the Daughters of the American Revolution lobbied to change the phrase "my flag" to "the flag of the United States of America."

"They were afraid that some of these little kids with anarchist or Communist parents, when they said 'My flag' would be thinking of the black flag of anarchy or the red flag of communism," says Whitney Smith, director of the Flag Research Center in Winchester Massachusetts.

In 1940, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled 8-1 that school boards could compel students to recite the pledge. "National unity is the basis of national security," wrote Justice Felix Frankfurter. "The flag is a symbol of our national unity."

Three years later, the Court reversed itself. Why? Perhaps the Court realized that at the height of a war against totalitarian regimes, a central feature of which was a slavish devotion to national symbols, compelling devotion to our flag was inappropriate. It contradicted the very spirit of the pledge, "With liberty and justice for all."
During that war the nation made other changes. The stiff-armed, arms-out flag salute fell out of favor because of its resemblance to the Nazi salute. In 1942, to prevent the cheapening of the flag, the American Flag Code prohibited its use in advertising or on any disposable item.

A decade later, the pledge was altered once more. The change was spurred by a sermon delivered on Feb. 7, 1954 by George M. Docherty, pastor of the New York Avenue Presbyterian Church in Washington D.C. With President Eisenhower sitting in the front pew the Reverend declared, "Apart from the mention of the phrase 'the United States of America' it could be the pledge of any republic. I could hear little Muscovites repeat a similar pledge to their hammer-and-sickle flag in Moscow. Russia is also a republic that claims to have overthrown the tyranny of kingship. Russia also claims to be indivisible."

Three days later a bill was introduced in Congress to add the words "under God." Baer recalls that "Congressmen said Communists would feel very uncomfortable saying the pledge, because they were atheists." Eisenhower signed the bill into law on Flag Day, June 14.

Bellamy's 22-word pledge had now grown to 31 words. Yet six of his original words still best express its central sentiment: "With liberty and justice for all."

David Morris is Co-founder and Vice President of the Institute for Local Self Reliance in Minneapolis, Minnesota. )
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