Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Be careful what you ask for, you might get it!

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The Michigan Supreme Court recently issued a ruling (pdf format) that upholds a fairly rigorous interpretation of the 2004 Michigan constitutional amendment popularly known as the "marriage amendment" which 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."

It seems that the things proponents said at the time about this amendment only banning same sex marriages and NOT affecting things like benefits ... things said to reassure dubious voters (the amendment passed 59 to 41%)... these things are patently false.

The Supreme Court, rather unsurprisingly, by a vote of 5-2, affirmed that "similar union for any purpose", means exactly what it says... state and local governmental units can't take anything into account other than actual marriages when determining benefits eligibility for employees (the specific target of the suit) or anything else. (The opinion makes good reading... some of the twists, such as the AG and the Governor taking opposite sides on the matter, may surprise you)

Fortunately, private employers are not bound by this, at least not yet.

The Attorney General, in a press release commenting that the SC had affirmed the opinion given by the office at the time that this would be the outcome, said "[T]he people of this state could hardly have made their intentions clearer." ... tell that to the voters that got bamboozled by the propaganda at the time.

This is a very unfortunate decision, but it is, as the Grand Rapids Press opines, a correct one on the face of it. We cannot expect the Supreme Court to read our minds and should not expect it to fix mistakes we made. Perhaps now this amendment will be seen for what it is, repression, and will be repealed. Or perhaps that's too much to hope for.

What do you think?

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