Michigan For Marriage Launches Public Education Effort

Group Will Focus On Sharing Stories Of Love, Freedom, And Commitment

BTL Staff

In an effort to win the freedom to marry for all couples in Michigan, Equality Michigan, the ACLU of Michigan, and Freedom to Marry launched a grassroots public education effort called Michigan For Marriage Thursday. The move comes as the DeBoer v. Snyder marriage equality case advances through the federal judicial system. For now the group is not circulating petitions - rather, they are focused on conversations with the public about the importance of marriage equality.

"Marriage equality, two words that mean so much to so many. For us marriage equality means protection for our family and in reality our children," said April DeBoer and Jayne Rowse, plaintiffs in the DeBoer v. Snyder case. "It means waking up each day knowing if something were to happen to one of us that our children would remain in the only family they have ever known...Nothing says that you are a family in the eyes of the law, a true legal family, like a marriage license. A certificate with our names on it and a state seal that everyone recognizes, finally gives our family the legal safeties and securities afforded by a marriage license that all families should enjoy."

In March, a federal judge ruled that Michigan's ban on same-sex marriage is unconstitutional. The ruling, coupled with the prospect of a 2016 ballot measure on the issue, show that Michigan is ready for marriage.

"Michiganders believe that our home state should be a place where every family is treated fairly and equally under the law and where every child can be raised in a home unharmed by discrimination," said Emily Dievendorf, executive director of Equality Michigan. "The Michigan for Marriage campaign will share with our friends, neighbors, and leadership across Michigan the need for marriage equality and remind them that while love makes a successful marriage possible, families also need the laws to support them."

The landscape for marriage is shifting rapidly. A February 2014 poll of Michigan voters showed strong majority support for marriage equality, with 56 percent endorsing marriage equality for all couples.

Michigan For Marriage will promote and share supporters' personal stories about why marriage matters to them and their families. This public education campaign is dedicated to changing hearts and minds to move marriage forward for all loving and committed couples. It aims to generate public discussion about family, freedom and personal liberty.

"We haven't become officially engaged yet because we don't want to get our hopes up just yet. It would break my heart to formally ask (my partner) Jamiil to marry me, and then be told again and again we cannot wed," Robert Tompkins of Oak Park said. "We have already picked out wedding dates and looked at rings, but are waiting on Michigan to let us move forward. We believe that Michigan will do the right thing, and respect our family and love for one another. This is our home state, and we don't want to have to move just to say 'I do'."

"We have been together for 18 years," said Tom and Tod McMillen-Oakley of Jackson. "Love may have made the family, but the laws of our state are working against us to keep us a family. However, we have faith that one day we will be a legal family in our home state of Michigan."

Community and faith leaders from across the state have already pledged their commitment to winning marriage for all, including Rev. Stanley Jenkins of First Presbyterian Lansing Church.

"My support for Marriage Equality is rooted in my faith in a loving God who calls us into loving relationships of commitment and reciprocity," stated Rev. Jenkins. "Love is the great equalizer."

Other supporters throughout Michigan have come together to voice their support for marriage and the belief that everyone deserves the right to marry the person they love. This campaign is an effort supported by representatives from all of Michigan's political parties.

"Republicans must support all the core freedoms our Constitution protects, including the 14th Amendment's guarantee that laws must apply equally to every citizen. Republicans should not support state laws that deny equal protection by singling out gay citizens for unequal treatment," said former state Rep. Leon Drolet, "True conservatives support the Constitution."

"With our partners in Michigan for Marriage, Freedom to Marry is eager to make the strongest case in the court of public opinion just as our movement's attorneys are making a powerful case in the court of law," said Marc Solomon, national campaign director of Freedom to Marry. "Our campaign will drive the case for why the state's discriminatory ban is untrue to Michigan's - and America's - values. All committed couples in Michigan should be treated with respect and dignity under the law and fully able to share in the freedom to marry."

All committed couples should have the freedom to marry in the state that they call home, and that includes same-sex couples in Michigan. The landscape for marriage is shifting rapidly. A February 2014 poll of Michigan voters showed strong majority support for marriage equality, with 56 percent endorsing marriage equality for all couples.

For more information about the Michigan For Marriage coalition, including how to make a financial contribution, pledge to win the freedom to marry in Michigan, and share a story about why marriage matters, visit http://www.MichiganForMarriage.org.
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