Opponents to Equality Make Big Showing in Support “Biblical Marriage”
(C. Proxmire, March 2, 2014, see also Between the Lines)
Mike Grant of Ypsilanti believes that because of his personal religious beliefs, other individuals should be denied the right to get married. He spent several hours Tuesday pacing in front of the Federal Courthouse in Detroit with a sign, topped with a cross, stating “I peacefully protest in favor of Biblical Marriage.”
Throughout the week a very organized group of protestors from various churches in the Ypsilanti area carried professionally-printed placards in favor of “traditional marriage,” with “one man and one woman.” Grant, who is a licensed minister at Fellowship Association of Free Will Baptist, was one of over 20 demonstrators against equality.
Later, on Facebook, a relative admonished his participation. “I also disagree with this if your gay straight or bi its not for someone to judge what is wrong or right you cant help who you love and from a personal point of view im ashamed that my family would be on tv breeding hate it was not long ago that the church said black and white people cant marry now there ok with that [sic.]”
To which Grant replied “Linda we were in no wise spreading hate, we were doing no different than what they were doing, simply protesting our opinion on the matter, not once did we bash, not once did we call out anyone, in fact even the news mentioned how peaceful the rally went concerning both parties. Honestly we aren’t spreading hate just standing for what we think is right like how they are standing for what they think is right. Be ashamed of me frankly i dont care im my own person with the same liberties and freedoms u have to believe whatever I want and stand up for whatever I want. Im not mad at u, I hope I didn’t offend u for being myself, but I did what i felt to be right, no different than them. [sic.]”
Joining Grant was Rev. Rex Evans of Free Will Baptist church in Ypsilanti. He too shared a message of imposing his personal religious beliefs onto others, stating “Both scripture and nature is designed by God to affirm the life long coveted union of one man being a male as created by God, one woman being female as created by God in a one – flesh relationship. This one – flesh relationship is emblematic of the union of Christ and his church. It is the sole and beautiful context of the divine plan from the marital relationship of man and woman as image – bearers of God, as well as the foundation for the family as the basic divinely ordained unit of human society. Violations of this one – flesh union, whether heterosexual or homosexual, premarital or extramarital contravene the divine plan for the family, for the conception and rearing of children, bringing spiritual disparity and guilt and death to individuals and cultures…. The state of Michigan’s already spoken on this issue. The people, the public, has spoken. And God has spoken… That’s all we have to say.”
Newscasts through the day showed the seemingly endless stream of red and white signs moving in front of the courthouse.
Inside Judge Bernard Friedman listened to testimony in the case of DeBoer v. Snyder, weighing scientific evidence that will determine if same-sex couples will be given equal access to marriage licenses and if second-parent adoption will be permissible in the state. For the thousands of LGBT people in Michigan who are waiting for equal access to marriage and adoption, their hope is that the trial will be determined on the value of the evidence presented and on interpretation of Constitutional Law, and not on religious opinions. Across America Federal judges have over-turned marriage bans. Seventeen states – CA, CT, DE, HI, IA, IL, ME, MD, MA, MN, NH, NJ, NM, NY, RI, VT, and WA – plus Washington, D.C. have the freedom to marry for same-sex couples. In UT, a federal judge has issued a ruling establishing the freedom to marry, and the decision is now stayed pending consideration by the appellate court.
Supporters of equality filled the courtroom, listening to the expert testimony of acclaimed child development researcher Dr. David Brodzinsky, who is affiliated with the Donaldson Adoption Institute and Michael Rosenfeld of Standford University. Both referred to studies that show children raised in households with a male and female head do not do any better than those with a single parent or with two parents of the same gender.
“There is no basis,” for the claim that children need a mom and a dad. “It’s clear that being raised by same-sex parents is no disadvantage to children,” he said.
Debra Baldwin and Amy Lavairre of Flint were among those in the court room. For them, end of life issues are a concern.
We’ve been together almost 20 years,” Baldwin said. “and we would like to have the ability to get married and make it legal. I’ve had a lot of health issues, and what I would like is protection for my partner.”
Lavairre added “for us, we don’t have kids, so for us it’s not so much the adoption issue as the marriage issue. With us getting older and having compromised health and stuff, we need to ensure that we can make health decisions for each other…. And when we die, we can’t have everything planned, down and paid for, but it doesn’t matter. Our families can override what we’ve said.”
Baldwin would like to be cremated when the time comes, but in Michigan, only a legal family member or spouse can give permission. The couple also faces tax penalties for not being married should there be any inheritance. There can also be restrictions on health coverage and retirement benefits.
Speaking at a press conference before the trail began, Attorney Dana Nessel, representing the couple, said “We are very excited today and happy people could join us and this historic occasion, and this trial’s been a long time coming. We are very much looking forward to presenting the evidence and the witnesses in this case. We are extremely optimistic that when all the evidence has been heard, The trial has reached a conclusion, and the decision has been rendered that Michigan will finally join and with many other states where gays and lesbians I considered to be equal citizens with everybody else and that their families and their children enjoy the same protection and the same rights everybody else has.”
DeBoer shared a sentiment she’s had for months. “Jane and I made this choice, The decision to fight The second parent adoption ban and we are happy to be representing everybody in the marriage case as well. We love our children. This started out as our children, this is still about our children. Although we’d reap the benefits of being able to get married in the state of Michigan, we want to be recognized like everybody else. Nothing says family like the marriage license that says we are legally a family. And that’s what we are hoping for. And I think we’re going to get,” she said.
Tanya Herman of Kalamazoo was one of a handful of pro-equality supporters in front of the courthouse. She drove in for the trial along with Stephanie Kurt and Emily Kimball of Lansing, who are the Godmothers of her 18-month-old daughter. She was dismayed at the lack of demonstrators, but toughed out several hours in the cold holding a sign identifying herself and her daughter as allies.
“I thought that the action would be a lot more on both sides. I thought there would be so much more supporting, so I’m surprised there’s not as many…. This is a huge thing. It’s for my daughter’s future. I want her to be here and live the life she’s going to live. She’s already going have a tough enough life… I want her to be as happy as she can be, and these people are making it so hard for her. And they are so ignorant. And I cannot believe how harsh they are and they just don’t care… The people here are going to make a difference. And it’s going to work. It’s just going to work,” Herman said.
The opening days have been emotional as well as educational. Cindy Clardy of Southfield also sat through the testimony Tuesday. “I wanted to see the trial,” Clardy said. “I thought it was really interesting… The real nitty-gritty comes down to listening to the testimony of the experts… A lot of the questions are sort of statements asked as questions. ‘Well you do agree that such and such…’ And sort of expecting a yes or no answer, but the testimony was usually more than the State attorney was looking for.” Clardy and her partner have followed the case from the beginning. They have children and grandchildren whom they hope will have more rights than they have in their lives.
The trial could go as long as eight days, and it could be hours to weeks before Judge Friedman makes his final decision. Once his decision is made, it is likely that the State will appeal and the ruling could be put on hold in a “stay” until the appeal is heard.
On Monday, March 3 a group of up to 300 Baptist Ministers and supporters are expected to be at the courthouse for a rally against marriage equality.
To join in the conversation, visit The Oakland County 115 News Hub’s Facebook Page at https://www.facebook.com/oc115.
For the most comprehensive coverage of LGBT issues, go to www.pridesource.com.
Opponents to Equality Make Big Showing in Support “Biblical Marriage”