LANSING Proponents of an amendment to the Michigan Constitution that would protect traditional marriage said that while the amendment did not pass in the Michigan House, they would seek another vote or even bypass the Legislature by mounting a petition drive to get the critical measure on the ballot, Tuesday, Feb. 9, 2004.
Sadly, Tuesdays vote to define marriage as a union between one man and one woman, fell eight votes short of the necessary two-thirds majority at the house. The Michigan amendment, which is separate from the federal amendment proposed and supported by President Bush, was intended to provide legal protection for a state marriage statute enacted in 1996.
The Defense of Marriage Act, 1996 statute that banned same-sex marriage in Michigan, was approved in both the State house and senate with almost no opposition. However on Tuesday, 65-38 voted for the measure; 73 votes are needed to pass the amendment.
At the debate, Rep. Gary Newell, R-Saranac, the primary sponsor of the amendment, called the ballot one of the most important we will ever take.
The institution of one man-one woman marriage is "fundamental and universal," he declared, and "was created by society before there was Michigan law or a Michigan Constitution."
Marlene Elwell, chairwoman for the campaign to promote the constitutional change, said that partisan politics was what prevented the vote from pulling through; nearly all Democrats voted against the amendment as opposed to the large majority of Republicans who pushed for the ballot.
Many democrats have blamed republicans for using the Michigan proposal as a strategy to garner conservative voters in the presidential election this coming November.
Elwell however denied the claim, explaining that the proposed voted was moved up from November to August specifically to allay those fears. .
"This is an important issue that people are concerned about," she said. "They should be given a voice."