News Articles

Mich. marriage amendment appears headed to Nov. ballot

LANSING, Mich. (BP)–When the Michigan legislature failed to pass a state constitutional marriage amendment in March, pro-family groups there didn’t give up.

Instead, they organized and started a petition drive with the goal of collecting 317,000 signatures by early July -– thus bypassing the legislative route altogether.

They reached that goal July 5, when the Lansing-based Citizens for the Protection of Marriage turned in 482,590 signatures to the secretary of state’s office. Although the signatures still must be validated, it appears that Michigan citizens will be voting on a state constitutional marriage amendment in November.

Pro-family groups in three other states -– Arkansas, Montana and Oregon –- have surpassed the required total needed to get marriage amendments on the ballots in those states. Pro-family groups in two other states, North Dakota and Ohio, are facing an August deadline for their respective amendments.

“It was just a movement of God,” Marlene Elwell, chairwoman for the Citizens for the Protection of Marriage, told Baptist Press. “It just touched people all across the state from every denomination.”

Elwell said two events motivated pro-family groups: Massachusetts legalizing same-sex “marriage” and the Michigan House failing to pass an amendment.

“[The House action] really caused an anger among a lot of people to say, ‘These people aren’t representing us,’” she said. “We felt that even if we didn’t get the signatures, we had to make a statement that we’re not going to sit down and just get rolled over on this.”

Despite the late start, the group collected most of the signatures without using paid circulators. After passing the 317,000 mark by using only volunteers, they used paid circulators to increase their tally. The signatures were collected in various ways, Elwell said — on the street, in parades, at picnics and in churches.

The grassroots support for an amendment, Elwell said, could have an impact on the push in Washington to pass the Federal Marriage Amendment. President Bush and other politicians have backed FMA, saying it’s the only way to prevent federal courts from legalizing same-sex “marriage” nationally. State amendments, like Michigan’s, provide protection only from state courts.

Both of Michigan’s senators are expected to vote against the Federal Marriage Amendment.

“We have to put it back in the hands of the states and raise the issue for us to have the impact at the federal level,” Elwell said.

Michigan is unique, Elwell added, because it’s not considered a conservative state and it’s not in the Bible Belt.

“When a state like Michigan has such an outpouring of the people, I think [politicians] have to take a look at that,” she said.
For more information about the national debate over same-sex “marriage,” visit

    About the Author

  • Michael Foust