Michigan Marriage Amendment Held from Ballot

Despite receiving enough voter support through signatures, the Michigan marriage amendment may be held back from the ballot because of the state’s four-member Canvassing board
( [email protected] ) Aug 25, 2004 12:41 PM EDT

A proposed constitutional marriage amendment banning gay marriage in Michigan may not make it to the ballot despite its having received enough signatures, because the state’s 4-member canvassing board deadlocked on their decision, on August 23, 2004.

Many pro-family groups were taken aback from the canvassing board’s decision, saying the board’s certification was more a formality than anything.

Amendment supporters said they would file suite at the Michigan appeals court to overrule the decision of the canvassing board. Unless the board decision is overruled, the amendment, which received 464,000 valid signatures, will remain off the ballot; the amendment only needed 317,000 votes to be placed on the November ballot.

The chairwoman for the Citizens for the Protection of Marriage said she was dismayed by the vote, calling it “outrageous.”

"For them to take that into their own hands is probably the worst example of raw politics that you want to look at," she said to the conservative Baptist Press. "We have almost 500,000 people in Michigan who signed a petition saying they want it on the ballot, and two people take it out of the hands of the people. That's not their role anyway. The role of the board of canvassers is just to say whether or not our signatures are valid."

According to Elwell, the opposing group “exhausted their options.”

"The opposition tried to challenge us on the signatures," she said. "They hired the best attorneys. They took a look at them and said, 'There's nothing wrong with these signatures.' ... Instead, they get two of the Democratic-appointed board of canvassers to say, 'We don't think it should be on the ballot.'"

The Michigan amendment, which bans both same-sex "marriage" and civil unions, reads: "To secure and preserve the benefits of marriage for our society and for future generations of children, the union of one man and one woman in marriage shall be the only agreement recognized as a marriage or similar union for any purpose."

Meanwhile, in Louisiana, the state appeals court ruled in favor of the amendment, allowing the legislation to appear on the ballot on September 18. Pro-family groups and pro-homosexual groups have been locked in several courtroom battles over the past few weeks, with some courts favoring the pro-family side and other courts favoring the opposing side. More than likely, the debate in Louisiana will not end until it reaches the state Supreme Court.

Currently, only one of a possible 13 states voted on the marriage amendment this year. Missouri passed the bill in early August with 71 percent of the vote.