In June of 2015 after years of battling for equal rights and access to the same freedoms as others in the country, same sex couples were awarded the right to become legally married. In a ruling from the U.S. Supreme Court, this became legal in all 50 states and county clerks began to issue marriage licenses to these individuals and performing nuptials, in some areas, right away.
However, the work for this important issue is still far from being over. There are over 132 sections in Michigan law that utilize the term wife and 199 state laws that use the term husband. All of these laws have to be put under review. This is a job that is going to be handled by the Michigan’s Law Revision Commission. Initially established in 1965, the purpose of this committee was to review various laws to find outdated areas and then make recommendations for the proper reforms to the way the Legislature was worded. Not only are homosexuals facing issues regarding marriage, but their employment opportunities in sectors like house cleaning and public service are compromised as well.
At this point the commission is going to take some time to look at small issues, such as the language that is used in forms and may make small changes, such as using terminology that is considered gender neutral such as spouse, rather than wife or husband, and bigger issues that revolve around child custody and divorce.
The initial constitutional ban in Michigan for same-sex marriages, which was approved back in 2004, does not have to be repealed due to the decision by the Supreme Court which simply overturned it. While there are some technical changes that will have to be made in the state laws in order to fully conform with the same sex ruling, there are other laws that are being mulled over in Michigan to help protect people and support the decision. These are the same issues being fought against in other cities as well.
According to Senators in the state, it would be beneficial if the Legislature took up the Religious Freedom Restoration Act. This would provide businesses with an actual legal defense if they wound up being sued by the state for not providing service if the services that were requested violated the business owners religious beliefs. Some of the most often used examples of when this law would be beneficial would be in cases of a wedding planner, florist or baker who did not want to provide services for same-sex marriages.
There are other issues and oppositions to same sex marriage in Michigan, as well. In fact, a couple that is married may face being fired, simply because this is the life they have decided to life. While some support the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, it could also result in mean-spirited attacks on the LGBT community some say this is not the right thing to do and simply an effort to minimize the ability for this community to live a normal life, like other, opposite sex couples.
The bottom line is that at this moment in time, same sex marriages are legal. However, for those in the state of Michigan, it does not mean that there are no other struggles or challenges they will face. While they can be married, legally, on paper, it does not mean that they may not face discrimination still in the future. If the Religious Freedom Restoration Act is passed, it will limit the services and even items that can be purchased by these couples. While this is not a sure thing, it is something that may affect the lives of thousands of same sex couples who are simply seeking equal rights and to be able to pledge their love and commitment to their partner.