By Regina Calcagno
Michigan For Marriage
The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. once said, “The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice.” Thirty-two states in the union have recognized marriage equality, doubled from a year ago, and more than sixty-one percent of Americans live in marriage equality states. Despite this rapid progress around the country, Michigan lags behind as the people of our state impatiently wait for justice.
We are eagerly awaiting the Sixth Circuit ruling in the DeBoer v. Snyder case. April and Jayne DeBoer, the couple at the center of Michigan’s marriage equality case, have been together for over a decade. They have adopted three children from the child welfare system and have continued to foster additional children.
Children of same-sex couples living in non-marriage equality states have felt significant harms. Excluding gay and lesbian couples from marriage harms children by denying them and their parents the support that would come to their families through the freedom to marry. In addition to the financial concerns like insurance coverage or inheritance rights, same-sex parents face barriers to providing care for their children.
When asked what marriage equality in Michigan would mean for her family, one woman said, “It would mean I could take my child to the doctor.” As her child’s non-adoptive mother, this woman had the added burden of bringing additional paperwork and other forms of proof to even the most routine doctor’s appointment.
All families benefit from the reassurance that comes from knowing that your family is safe and secure. The major child welfare experts, including the American Academy of Pediatrics, the National Association of Social Workers, the American Psychiatric Association, and the American Psychological Association, are in agreement. Each group has come out to support the freedom to marry for gay and lesbian couples because all children deserve the right to insurance coverage, social security, emergency care, and inheritance rights regardless of their family makeup.
At the time of this writing, it has been eighty-four days since the Sixth Circuit heard arguments in this case, and over one thousand days since the case itself was first filed. These timelines, however, pale in comparison when you look at how long families across the state have actually been waiting for marriage equality.
Michael and William have been together for nearly fifteen years and have borne the responsibilities of marriage. William recently said, “It just confounds us that we are ‘allowed’ to be married in some states and not in others. We are clearly dedicated to each other, care and support each other, have a house and assets and banking and a dog together. If that is not marriage, I don’t know what is.”
Couples like Michael and William pay taxes, vote, and contribute to their communities. They work hard and pay into the same system as everyone else, and they should have the same freedom to marry.
The values that make up a marriage — love, family, commitment, and responsibility — are what really matters. Marriage says “we are family” in a way that no other word does. Gay and lesbian couples are not very different from straight couples. They share values – like the importance of family or being neighborly; worries - like making ends meet or job security; and hopes for the future - like having a family and growing old together.
We know that justice delayed is justice denied. Every day without marriage equality in Michigan is a day that families are struggling and children are unprotected. It is long past time for our state to value all marriages and embrace and protect all families.
Regina Calcagno serves as the coalition manager of Michigan for Marriage. For more information on this grassroots public education campaign please visit
This article was printed in the November 2, 2014 - November 15, 2014 edition.