Politics & Government
1:45 pm
Wed May 15, 2013

Is legalizing gay marriage on Michigan's horizon?

Yesterday, Minnesota’s governor signed a bill that made gay marriage legal in the state.

Could Michigan be the next state to make steps towards legalizing gay marriage?

Given the state’s current constitutional amendment that bans gay marriage, probably not anytime soon.  But more Michiganders support gay marriage than they did a year ago.

According to a state-wide poll released to The Detroit News and WDIV-TV Channel 4 on Tuesday, 56.8% of Michigan residents support gay marriage. That’s a 12.5 percentage point increase since May 2012 when 44.3% of Michiganders supported gay marriage.

Opinions have drastically changed since January 2011, when only 38% supported gay marriage. 

Republican opinion has shifted the most – 36.5% of Republicans supported gay marriage in the most recent poll compared to the 20% who supported it in 2012.

Click here to view a graphic created by The Detroit News that illustrates the shifting support/opposition and the break down by political party.

Joel Kurth of The Detroit News reports that:

A majority of younger voters favor same-sex marriage. Regionally, support is strongest in southeast Michigan, the poll found. It was weakest in western Michigan, 42 percent, and mid-Michigan, 38 percent. Weekly churchgoers were the biggest opponents — with 58 percent against the marriages, the poll found.

The poll also indicated that 90% of Michiganders believe there should be some form of legal protection for homosexuals.

Yet, as Lester Graham of Michigan Radio's Michigan Watch reported in March, discrimination against gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender people in Michigan is not illegal:

The Elliot-Larsen Civil Rights Act is Michigan’s law to prohibit discrimination. It includes protections for religion, race, color, national origin, age, sex, height, weight, family status, and marital status. 

But, if you’re gay, you’re just out of luck.

According to Leslee Fritz from the Michigan Department of Civil Rights:

There is no federal law to prevent discrimination against the LGBT community and there is no law in Michigan that prevents it. So, there’s a gap between what people believe is right and what they believe is real and what is actual reality.

Perhaps proposals in Michigan's next election season will reflect the newfound public support.

Michigan Radio’s Tracy Samilton is covering this story and will have an update later today.

- Julia Field, Michigan Radio Newsroom