Report

The Faithful Divide Over Wedding Vows

A Profile of Michigan's 2004 Battle Over Marriage Equality

A report by Jonathan Duffy and Sally Steenland explores the strategies for Proposal 2 in Michigan, a state constitutional amendment that prohibited same-sex marriage.

Faith communities are moving toward acceptance of LGBT people in measurable ways. Changes can be tracked across faith traditions and the state. Efforts range from lay-led support groups to adult education classes; clergy-led efforts; clergy support and networking groups; participation in groups such as Dignity, Integrity, Inclusive Justice, OASIS, GIFT, Room for All, B1 for Inclusion; and more. (Flickr/<a href=B Tal)" data-srcset="https://www.americanprogress.org/wp-content/uploads/2011/01/michigan_lgbt_onpage.jpg?w=610 610w, https://www.americanprogress.org/wp-content/uploads/2011/01/michigan_lgbt_onpage.jpg?w=610 610w, https://www.americanprogress.org/wp-content/uploads/2011/01/michigan_lgbt_onpage.jpg?w=610 610w, https://www.americanprogress.org/wp-content/uploads/2011/01/michigan_lgbt_onpage.jpg?w=500 500w, https://www.americanprogress.org/wp-content/uploads/2011/01/michigan_lgbt_onpage.jpg?w=250 250w" data-sizes="auto" />
Faith communities are moving toward acceptance of LGBT people in measurable ways. Changes can be tracked across faith traditions and the state. Efforts range from lay-led support groups to adult education classes; clergy-led efforts; clergy support and networking groups; participation in groups such as Dignity, Integrity, Inclusive Justice, OASIS, GIFT, Room for All, B1 for Inclusion; and more. (Flickr/B Tal)

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Download the introduction and summary (pdf)

On November 2, 2004, voters in Michigan approved a state constitutional amendment that prohibited same-sex marriage. The amendment, known as Proposal 2, passed with nearly 60-percent support and came after vigorous efforts by advocacy groups and faith communities on both sides of the issue.

Supporters of Proposal 2 raised more money and waged a stronger campaign than their opponents. Proposal 2 supporters also relied heavily on religious arguments, while their opponents tended to frame their arguments mainly in secular terms, such as issues of civil rights and social justice. Supporters also launched a late barrage of spending, mailings, and sermons. Their efforts were successful, and the proposal passed. Exit polls showed that religion played a significant role in the outcome.

Since 2004, there have been several consequences to passage of Proposal 2. One has been the denial of health care benefits to same-sex partners in civil unions. Although Proposal 2 supporters claimed the proposal was limited to marriage and would not take away health benefits, in fact it did.

A review of the battle over Proposal 2, the alliances it shaped, and the efforts and tactics involved not only provides insights into the ballot-initiative process, but, more importantly, may help illuminate similar campaigns in the future. The arguments, organizing strategies, and communications messages that worked, or didn’t work, for Proposal 2 in Michigan can serve as lessons in future struggles. This paper will explore those strategies so that progressives in Michigan and other states can learn from the experiences in this battleground over marriage equality.

Download the report (pdf)

Download the introduction and summary (pdf)

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Authors

Sally Steenland

Director, Faith and Progressive Policy Initiative

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