By Arielle Hines
Supporters of same-sex marriage were given a major victory last week when it refused to hear cases that kept five states’ anti-gay marriage laws in place. The non-decision cleared the way for the legalization of same-sex marriage in those states.
Now, a majority of Americans live in states where same-sex marriages are recognized for the first time in history. Twenty-six states plus the District of Columbia recognize them. Just 10 years ago, same-sex marriage was only legal in Massachusetts.
Despite the rapid growth in acceptance and tolerance of same-sex marriage, it remains a hot topic of political discussion. Where do your candidates stand?
The Governor’s Race
Gov. Rick Snyder, Republican
Snyder and Democratic challenger Mark Schauer went back-and-forth on the issue during Sunday’s gubernatorial debate.
Michigan’s constitutional ban on gay marriage is working its way through the courts. The legality of the ban, made law in 2004 after being approved by voters, is being weighed in a U.S. appeals court and is being defended by the state of Michigan and Attorney General Bill Schuette.
When pressed during Sunday’s debate on if Michigan should continue defending the ban, Snyder declined to give his stance on the issue.
“I will respect what happens in our court system, and I think that’s where the issue is going to be decided,” Snyder said. “I’m waiting for the outcome of the courts.”
Snyder has previously stated he is against same-sex marriage. In a 2010 gubernatorial debate, Snyder said he believes marriage should be between a man and a woman.
In February, Snyder asked a federal judge to uphold a ban on domestic partner for same-sex couples who work for state and local governments.
Mark Schauer, Democratic candidate for governor:
Schauer criticized Snyder for failing to clarify where he stood on same-sex marriage. He said the ban hurts Michigan’s economy, as it makes the state unattractive for same-sex couples to live in.
“You are a party to opposing marriage equality in Michigan,” Schauer said to Snyder, according to MLive. “I think that’s wrong.”
Schauer voiced his support for same-sex marriage when the U.S. Department of Justice declared the roughly 300 marriages that took place before Schuette’s appeal but after the ban’s overturning in district court valid.
“This is a major victory for loving, committed couples across the state,” Schauer said. “While I know there are differing views on this issue, I firmly believe every Michigander deserves equal protection under the law, and today’s ruling reaffirms this fundamental American value.”
As a U.S. representative, he signed on to ENDA, an act that prohibits employment discrimination based on sexual orientation.
U.S. Rep. Gary Peters, Democratic candidate for Senate
Peters very supportive of same-sex marriage. In March, when the U.S. Department of Justice recognized 300 same-sex marriages, he gave a statement of support.
“Today’s decision by the Justice Department to recognize these historic marriages marks an important step forward toward greater equality for families across our state,” Peters said. “No American should face discrimination based on who they love, and we must continue working to ensure that marriage equality is fully recognized and celebrated in Michigan.”
The Human Rights Campaign, one of leading civil rights organization for LBGTQ individuals, gave Peters a perfect score for being supportive of same-sex marriage.
Terri Lynn Land, Republican candidate for U.S. Senate:
State House, 99th District
State. Rep. Kevin Cotter, R-Mount Pleasant:
Kevin Cotter indicated to Vote Smart, an organization recommended by the New York Times as a resource to research politicians, that he doesn’t support same-sex marriage or the inclusion of sexual orientation or gender identity in Michigan anti-discrimination laws.
Bryan Mielke, Democratic candidate for State House:
Mielke told CMU Insider that he supports marriage equality and is against discrimination of any kind. He said a ban on same-sex marriage hurts the state’s economy.