By Darien Velasquez
Ingham County Chronicle
Ingham County – Michigan is one of four states that will be before the United States Supreme Court this summer when the controversial topic of same-sex marriage will be decided. On March 21, 2014, a U.S. District Court ruled the state’s denial of marriage rights to same-sex couples unconstitutional. More than 300 same-sex couples married in Michigan the next day before the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals stayed enforcement of the district court decision. On Nov. 6, 2014, the Sixth Circuit reversed the
lower court’s ruling and upheld Michigan’s ban on same-sex marriage.
Same-sex marriage couples acknowledge the tough task in trying to persuade the Supreme Court to allow states to limit marriage to only a man and a woman. Same-sex couples are able to marry in 36 states as well as the District of Columbia. The concern for children is one of several major issues.
According to Ingham County Clerk Barb Byrum, “It’s not equal. People who are gay are being treated as second-class citizens and are not afforded the same right as heterosexual couples.” A primary concern for same-sex couples is that they do not receive the same benefits as straight couples do. Some of these benefits might include hospital visitation, filing a joint tax return to reduce tax burden, access to family health coverage and many other benefits that are available only to opposite-sex marriages.
Robert Sawyer of Community Baptist Church said “Calling something marriage does not make it marriage. Marriage has always been a covenant between a man and a woman.” According to Sawyer, most religions see marriage for procreation and say it should not be extended to same-sex couples because they cannot produce children together.
About half of all Americans, 52 percent believe that same-sex marriage should be legal in all states while 43 percent are opposed, according to a recent survey by the Gallup Organization. Since Michigan is one of four states that will be before the United States Supreme Court this summer for this issue it is a worry that opposition to same-sex marriage may be understated in public opinion polls. According to this survey, people tend to give what they believe is the socially acceptable view rather than their true feelings.
Ingham County resident Rosalyn Perry has been in a same-sex relationship for more than 13 years. Perry said “It feels like the love, respect and commitment I have for my partner can not be validated in the eyes of Michigan’s law. It feels like we are second-class citizens when in fact, we hold our state and federal laws very seriously.” Perry continued to say “It’s not special treatment we are asking for, it is equal treatment.”
However Ingham County resident Joseph Trevino had a very different opinion. According to Trevino, children need both a mother and a father. “It does not create a family but a confusing home for a child as well as the child’s friends and forces parents to participate in something they are not totally comfortable with.”
Another major concern with same-sex marriage is how it will affect the workplace. Some people find it to be a labor issue while others find it to be irrelevant to the workplace. According to Mark Passick from the Department of Treasury in Ingham county said “The workplace should be exempt. Keep work, work. Run your personal relationships elsewhere. The courts should never be able to dictate human relationships though.”
Elizabeth Tupper of Ingham is in a same-sex marriage that is not legally recognized in Michigan. “I do not receive the same tax breaks as married couples, I also do not get to make any legal decisions about my wife’s son, even though he is raised in our home by the both of us. We cannot buy and own property together, so we are not protected in the event of death,” said Tupper. “Everyone should be treated with equality no matter the race, religion, or sexual orientation.”
The state has been ordered to recognize the 323 same-sex marriages performed on March 22, 2014, and the state has announced it will not appeal that order. According to Byrum, the Supreme Court will meet with Michigan and come to a decision sometime around June.