Pontiac — Supporters of gay marriage unveiled an educational campaign Thursday to drum up support for legalizing same sex marriage in Michigan.
Supporters of the campaign called Michigan for Marriage say they are watching the current appeals of a federal ruling in March that lifted the state’s ban on gay marriage and same-sex adoptions in anticipation of a possible petition drive to put the question of legalizing gay marriage on the ballot in 2016.
Organizers say they want to take the stories of gay and lesbian couples who want to marry to churches and other venues.
The campaign is backed by a coalition of area civil rights and community groups that include the American Civil Liberties Union and Equality Michigan.
Robert Tompkins, 29, of Detroit and Jamiil Gaston, 23, of Oak Park said they want to be married but will wait for the legal right to do so in Michigan before they tie the knot.
Tompkins said it’s just a matter of time before the state has to legalize marriage.
“We want Michigan to prepare itself because the time is now,” said Tompkins on Thursday with Gaston by his side.
Tompkins said legally marrying Gaston is also important because he wants to be able to share his health benefits with him if he ever needed them.
Gaston added that being able to legally marry Tompkins “puts us on the same plane as heterosexual couples.”
Also joining organizers at Thursday’s news conference in the Oakland County Board of Commissioners’ Auditorium were former Republican legislators Leon Drolet and Chris Ward
Ward said he regrets voting in 2004 for a bill to ban gay marriage in Michigan. The legislature failed to pass the bill but Michigan residents approved a constitutional ban on same-sex marriage in the state in 2006.
“I cast the wrong vote on this issue,” said Ward Thursday. “We let politics get ahead of people … real people. We cast votes put us on the wrong side of history.”
Ward urged others in the Republican party who support same-sex marriage to speak up.
“This is not the time to be a bystander and not a time for politeness,” said Ward. “I believe in a party that believes in freedom and freedom doesn’t end at the bedroom door.”
Drolet, who voted against the gay marriage ban in 2004, urged the Republican Party to not be selective in what part of the state constitution they choose to support.
“I think Republicans should be consistent in supporting the constitution,” said Drolet on Thursday. Drolet added that younger Republicans are turning away from the Party because of its stance on gay marriage.
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