gay rights

Up North Pride

Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel will be the grand marshal for an LGBTQ+ pride march in Traverse City next month.

The Visibility March will be held by Up North Pride, an LGBTQ+ advocacy group. Founder Jonny Cameron says they chose Nessel because she has fought for LGBTQ+ rights during her career.

“She’s making sure that we are protected, as parents, as families, in the state of Michigan,” Cameron says.

Up North Pride says Nessel is the first openly gay candidate elected to state office.

Jeff Montgomery was one of Michigan's first leading gay-rights activists. 

A personal tragedy drove him to become a fierce advocate for LGBT rights in Michigan and found the Triangle Foundation, which later became a part of Equality Michigan

Montgomery died this week in Detroit.

Lindsey Smith, Michigan Radio

A campaign to add LGBT and gender protections to the Michigan Constitution plans to start gathering signatures in January if a state elections board gives it the go-ahead.

The Board of State Canvassers is being asked to approve the petition form to be circulated by the Fair Michigan ballot campaign. It would add protections against LGBT and gender discrimination to the equal protection clause of the Michigan Constitution. It currently offers anti-discrimination protections based on religion, race, color, or national origin.

Traverse City’s mayor wants a timeout on plans to build a nine-story development downtown.

The city commission is set to hear public comment about the mixed-use project Monday night. But opponents have asked a judge to stop the process until Traverse City residents can vote on it directly.

Mayor Jim Carruthers says he fears the city could get caught up in a lengthy – and expensive – court battle.

Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

More than 300 gay and lesbian couples in Michigan are legally married now that Governor Rick Snyder has decided not to contest a court order. It says the state has to recognize the marriages that took place last spring.

But, the state will continue to defend the same-sex marriage ban in a case before the US Supreme Court.

It was Snyder’s call whether the state would appeal after a federal judge ruled that more than 300 same-sex couples are legally married and told the state to treat them as married.

A federal appeals court says a former assistant state attorney general owes millions of dollars for stalking and harassing a gay student leader at the University of Michigan.

The episode has already cost Andrew Shirvell his job as a lawyer for the state. Now, he also owes $3.5 million to former UM student body president Chris Armstrong.

Shirvell challenged the jury award. He said he was exercising his First Amendment right to protest against a public figure. He also said the judgment was excessive.

A debate is shaping up in the Michigan House on whether Michigan’s civil rights law should be expanded to protect gays, lesbians, and bisexuals from discrimination. There’s also a fight brewing on whether those protections should extend to transgender people.

And House Speaker Jase Bolger (R-Marshall) said he would only support adding “sexual orientation” (but not “gender identity”) to the Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act if the Legislature adopts a law to grant exceptions for many people with religious objections.

The U.S. Supreme Court has declined to hear seven same-sex marriage cases. And that leaves the fate of Michigan’s same-sex marriage ban with the US Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals.

A decision from the Sixth Circuit could come at any time. The case was argued in August. Ohio, Kentucky, and Tennessee are also waiting on the ruling. A decision to uphold same-sex marriage bans in those states and Michigan would create a conflict between different circuits that could land the case before the Supreme Court.

Russ Climie / Tiberius Image

Governor Rick Snyder used a Martin Luther King Day speech to call for more public civility. His remarks come as a state Republican leader continues to roil his party with comments about gay people and Muslims.

Snyder told a Martin Luther King Day lunch in Lansing that he was proud to use his State of the State speech last week to call for civility.

“It’s disappointing that I had to make that call because of comments made by people out in the public,” he said. “And that just shows we need to continue this journey in terms of looking at equality and justice.”

A federal judge in Detroit is going to take more time to decide whether to uphold or strike down Michigan’s ban on same-sex marriage. Judge Bernard Friedman set a February trial date to get expert testimony.

The further delay was a disappointment to gay marriage supporters, who’d hoped for a decision Wednesday. There were same-sex couples lined up at some county clerks’ offices anticipating a decision in their favor.

A federal judge has struck down a Michigan law which prohibits public employers from offering health coverage and other benefits to the unmarried, live-in partners of their employees. In a preliminary ruling, U.S. District Court Judge David Lawson says the law serves no compelling public interest, but it does deny equal protection to people in same-sex relationships.

The U.S. Supreme Court’s decisions on gay marriage don’t really change the legal status of same-sex couples in Michigan. In 2004, voters amended the Michigan Constitution to enact a sweeping ban on same-sex marriage and civil unions.

But there’s a lot happening on the issue in courts, the Legislature, and on the campaign trail. The Supreme Court’s decision returns gay marriage battles to Michigan and the 34 other states that prohibit same-sex marriage.

A northern Michigan Indian tribe will recognize marriages among gay and lesbian couples. The chairman of the Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians, Dexter McNamara, says he will sign a new marriage statute into law next Friday at his office in Harbor Springs.

“This is about people being happy,” McNamara said in the email announcement. He says denying same-sex marriage rights is discriminatory under an equal-protection clause found in the tribe’s constitution.

The tribe’s legislative body passed the marriage statute earlier this week in a split vote: five to four.

A decision on whether Michigan’s gay marriage ban is constitutional will wait until this summer. A federal judge in Detroit says he wants to see how the U.S. Supreme Court rules on a pair of gay marriage cases before he makes his ruling.

The case from Michigan started out as a case on adoption rights for same-sex couples. Jayne Rouse and April DeBoer are raising three children together. But under the law, they don’t share joint legal rights and responsibilities.   

Harbor Springs Tribe Takes Step Toward Same-Sex Marriage

Mar 6, 2013

An Indian tribe in Harbor Springs could become the third tribe in the nation to recognize gay marriage. The governing council of the Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians approved the proposal this week.

Even though Michigan's constitution bans same-sex marriage, native tribes have their own sovereign authority. 

Annette VanDeCar says tribal leaders are recognizing a long native tradition of honoring "two spirit people."

The U.S. Supreme Court is about to hear two cases dealing with gay marriage.

At the same time in Michigan, a federal judge could rule as soon as Thursday on a challenge to the state’s ban on same-sex marriage and civil unions. In that case, a lesbian couple sued not because they want to be married, but because they want to be parents.

Elenah Neshcuet/Flickr

A divided Michigan Court of Appeals panel has upheld extending health benefits to the live-in partners of state employees. The court’s majority rejected the argument that the benefits violate the state’s ban on gay marriage and civil unions.

The court said the state Civil Service Commission offers the benefits equally to people in both same-sex and heterosexual relationships.