Tuesday, federal courts decided California’s ban on same-sex marriages is unconstitutional. The next day, Washington State Legislature legalized same-sex marriage.
Mike Neuhalfen, a graduate student at Eastern Michigan University, thinks same-sex marriages could be legalized in Michigan one day, despite the current conservative political environment.
“It is not stereotypically partisan,” he said. “For [gay marriage to get legalized in Michigan], it needs to transcend politics.”
Jess Mulcahy, student program coordinator for the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Resource Center (LGBTRC) agreed it is a nonpartisan issue of equality.
“I don’t care if you don’t support gay marriage or not—you need to support equal rights,” she said.
Bilal Ali, a freshman at EMU, said same-sex marriage could become legal in Michigan, but it “depends on the gay community becoming unified.”
Mulcahy agreed, saying, “Supporters need to be more active.”
Mary Larkin, LGBTRC program coordinator, said while “each state is different” it remains “unclear why it [was legalized in Washington].”
Mulcahy stressed the LGBT community needs to avoid focusing solely on marriage equality.
Given the numerous struggles of the LGBT community, she said, “Don’t put the focus only on gay marriage.”
Mulcahy further said that as important as the issue of marriage equality is, people in the LGBT community should not spend time debating whether the government should mandate churches to issue marriages for same-sex couples.
“Let them keep the church. I need the government to recognize my marriage,” she said.
Bullying and the passing of anti-discriminatory laws remain top issues to Mulcahy.
Among some of Larkin’s concerns for the LGBT community was the inherent inequality in adoption policy.
“If I want to adopt a child, I can, but my partner has to stay at home. That’s not equality,” Larkin said.
According to gaylife.about.com, “Michigan permits single GLBT adoption. Prohibits joint adoption. Second-parent
According to MLive, a lesbian couple in Detroit is suing Michigan in an attempt to overturn the ban on adoption by same-sex couples.
Larkin said same-sex marriage could be legalized in the future, though to her, a bigger fight is over the Defense of Marriage Act, or DOMA. This federal law defined marriage as between one man and one woman but allows individual states the ability to decide whether or not they will allow same-sex marriages.
There are other bills available, which will nullify DOMA. Respect for Marriage Act, RFMA, for instance, would reverse DOMA and allow the federal government to provide benefits to same-sex couples.
Among the supporters of RFMA is Senator Bob Barr, one of the original drafters of DOMA.
“I think, until DOMA can be repealed… and while it is left up to the states, we will see it over and over and over again,” Larkin said.