HOLLAND, Mich. (WOOD) — There are few gray areas for the two sides debating same-sex marriage.
Supporters say it’s about basic rights: Same-sex couples should be able to enjoy the same benefits as a man and a woman who marry. Detractors say it’s a violation of a law established long before the modern-day books were written.
“Marriage has never existed as a right. It’s always been understood as a privilege and it’s an institution that predates government,” said Chris Marlink, community engagement manager for the Family Research Council.
The Washington. D.C.-based organization, which has an office in Holland, was among several groups behind a 2004 state ballot initiative that banned same-sex marriage in Michigan by defining marriage as being between a man and a woman.
The initiative, Proposal 2, passed with 59% of the vote.
“We believe the state does have a compelling interest because children matter. We believe children matter and they do best — social science demonstrates this — when raised in the context by their biological mom and dad,” Marlink said.
Same-sex couples raising children who wished to get married and reap the benefits couples in traditional marriages enjoy disagreed. But the people had spoken.
Last year, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down a major section of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). It helped supporters of same-sex marriage open more courthouse doors as they took aim at the 31 states that had passed varying degrees of same-sex marriage and union bans.
Supporters of same-sex marriage say times have changed, culture is evolving, and that the courts have followed suit. Last week, a federal judge in Detroit struck down Michigan’s ban on same-sex marriage as unconstitutional. Many same-sex couples married Saturday before the ruling was stayed as appeals move forward.
Marlink’s worried about the precedent the decision sets.
“If we continue to see judges usurping the right of the people to define marriage for themselves, I think we’re going to see the debate continue to be embittered. And I don’t think that serves anybody,” Marlink said.
But does he think Proposal 2 would still pass in 2014?
“That’s a good question. I honestly don’t know,” he said. “I think that there’s still a strong contingent within the U.S. and even in the state of Michigan of people who believe that children do best when raised in the context of their married mother and father.”