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Even with SCOTUS decision, fight over LGBT rights in Michigan continues

The Supreme Court’s ruling on gay marriagehas many people happy and relieved. None more so, politically speaking, than Republicans who’ve wanted to see the issue go away.

Moderate Republicans like Governor Rick Snyder have always detested getting wrapped up in the culture wars. 

And even Michigan’s conservative Attorney General Bill Schuette, who aggressively pursued the case as public opinion was undergoing a dramatic reversal, now says it’s up to others to implement the decision.

Schuette told reporters after the Supreme Court’s decision, “this is something for the governor and the Legislature to work on.”  Consider it Schuette-speak for “not my problem.” But if Snyder, Schuette and other Republicans are hoping the issue will go away, they are bound to be disappointed.

The conversation will be kept alive because there are laws that have to be changed. Divorce laws, custody laws, inheritance and estate planning, hospital visitation will all need to be updated. And every single one of them is a reminder and an opportunity to rekindle the controversy.

Although there are Republicans who want this issue to go away, there are also plenty members of the GOP who want to reign in the impact of the Supreme Court’s decision. And they’re willing to be vocal about it.

There is already legislation, for example, that’s been introduced that would only allow clergy members to sign off on marriages. However, it’s pretty certain that measure isn’t going to move, in large part because the sponsor, state Representative Todd Courser (R-Lapeer), is a gadfly who’s largely isolated himself in the Legislature.  

But, there is the controversial Religious Freedom Restoration Act (remember Indiana?) which has been introduced in Michigan and is supported by House and Senate GOP leaders. Governor Snyder has broken with the Republican leaders on the question by saying the only way he’d sign a Religious Freedom Restoration Act is if the Legislature also sends him a bill to add LGBT protections to Michigan’s civil rights law. Because even though gay marriage is now the law of the land you can still get fired or be denied housing and services for being gay in Michigan.

If that doesn’t get settled look for Democrats and progressives to launch a ballot drive next year to add those LGBT protections. Which means gay rights isn’t over as a political issue -- not at all.


You can listen below to Zoe Clark and Rick Pluta on Stateside with Cynthia Canty on Monday, June 29th, 2015 talking about what the Supreme Court decision means for Michigan:

The It's Just Politics team joins Stateside on Monday, June 29th, 2015

Zoe Clark is Michigan Public's Political Director. In this role, Clark guides coverage of the state Capitol, elections, and policy debates.
Rick Pluta is Senior Capitol Correspondent for the Michigan Public Radio Network. He has been covering Michigan’s Capitol, government, and politics since 1987.
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