On Heels Of Supreme Court Decisions, Plans Are Made For Expanding Gay Rights In Michigan

Posted at 10:52 PM, Jun 26, 2013
and last updated 2013-06-27 07:22:05-04

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. – History was made as the U.S. Supreme Court gave two rulings pertaining to gay rights in the country.

The decisions will not likely affect most people living in Michigan right now, but supporters of gay rights would argue that now is the time to try and make a change a local level.

The court ruled 5 to 4 against the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), that same-sex couples married in the states where it’s already legal should be treated equally under federal law when it comes to benefits like retirement savings and taxes.

On Proposition 8, the justices said opponents could not appeal the lower court ruling that struck down the California law that made same-sex marriages illegal in the state.

The court did not conclude whether same-sex marriage is a constitutionally protected right that would apply to all states.

At Pub 43 on Division Avenue South in Grand Rapids, supporters of gay rights are took a moment on Wednesday to celebrate what they call a ‘civil rights victory.’

Supporters raised a glass that night but then quickly made plans to take action starting the next day.

Daniel Hosslar and Enrico Perez were among the nearly 50 people inside Pub 43.  The two men were married in Michigan by a Native American tribe a week prior. “How great would that be to get married around the same time that the decision falls,” said Hosslar.

They bothsaid they followed the Supreme Court’s deliberations on gay rights extremely closely, especially the ruling dealing with federal benefits.

“It means all 1,100 benefits will get to apply to us as well,” said Hosslar.

Mike Hemmingsen was also at the Pub.  He said he and his partner have plans to get married out of state, thanks to the Supreme Court’s ruling.

“At first I was shocked,” said Hemmingsen.  “From there, I went to a very happy place from that standpoint.”

As a gay person himself, Hemmingsen is taking a moment to savor the court’s ruling. As president of Network, a gay and lesbian resource center of West Michigan, he and others want to capitalize on this decision. Network, along with the organization, ‘Vote Equal.” are working to get Michigan the same rights that will be applied to married same-sex couples in California.

According to Vote Equal, getting the issue on the Michigan ballot in November of 2016 will require raising $12 million  and collecting 400,000 signatures in the next two years.