Tuesday, July 2, 2013

What is the Effect of the United States Supreme Court Ruling on Gay Rights in Michigan?

By:  Carole L. Chiamp

On June 26, 2013, the United States Supreme Court struck down a key provision of the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA).
The decision will not have an impact on Michigan’s ban on same-sex marriage.  It may however breath new life into attempts to repeal the same-sex marriage ban.

Since the Court found the law unconstitutional, some same-sex couples may qualify for federal benefits which were previously unavailable to them.  Just a few of the federal benefits legally married gay couples will now have access to allows them to:
  1. Sponsor their spouse for immigration benefits.
  2. File income taxes jointly.
  3. Have joint parenting rights, such as access to children’s school records.
  4. Have next-of-kin status for emergency medical decisions.
  5. Have family visitation rights, such as a visit to a spouse in a hospital or prison.
  6. Receive custodial rights to children, shared property, child support and alimony/spousal after divorce.
  7. Qualify for domestic violence intervention.
  8. Receive spousal funeral and bereavement leave.
  9. Inherit property.
  10. Receive spousal support benefits in which an officer spouse is killed in the line of duty.
  11. Receive spousal Social Security payments.
  12. Have immunity from testifying against spouse.
  13. Apply for housing assistance if in a low-income family.
  14. Apply for copyright renewal for works created by their deceased spouse.
  15. Receive spousal recognition for policies governing burial at Arlington National Cemetery.
The President has said publicly that his staff will be giving us clarification on the thousands of federal regulations that may be affected by the court’s ruling.

Michigan is a state which adopted a constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage in 1994 with 50% of voters in favor of the ban.  Public opinion is changing nationally and in Michigan.  Several polls conducted in the last 18 months show 56% of Michigan citizens now favor same-sex marriage, an increase of over 12% from polls taken a year earlier.

Several developments in Michigan in this area include a new ruling by Judge Lawson, a federal judge, overturning the Michigan law barring gay partners from receiving benefits given to their heterosexual counterparts; a ruling is expected from Judge Bernard Friedman of the United States District Court on the constitutionality of the marriage of April DeBoer and Jayne Rouse, a lesbian couple.  Michigan Democrats have introduced legislation in the Michigan House and Senate to change the law which have a snowball’s chance in hell of passing in a Republican dominated legislature.  Other activists are beginning preparation for a 2016 ballot proposal to be placed on the ballot in Michigan to seek citizen support to repeal the 2004 law.

No comments: