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Finley: A guerilla war on gay marriage

Nolan Finley
The Detroit News

The Dave Agema wing of the Republican Party is rearing its Neanderthal head again, this time to force anyone who wants to get married in Michigan to also get religion.

Agema is the national Republican committeeman from Michigan whose serial homophobic and racist bleatings embarrass the state and the party. Two of his acolytes in the Legislature, Reps. Cindy Gamrat, R-Plainwell, and Todd Courser, R-Lapeer, are offering a bill that would continue a guerrilla war against same sex marriage should the U.S. Supreme Court this month strike down Michigan's ban on gay unions.

The bill would require all marriages in the state — gay, straight or sideways — be "solemnized" by an ordained clergyman. Judges, mayors and other secular elected officials would no longer be allowed to officiate legal marriages.

The requirement would kick-in 90 days after a Supreme Court ruling legalizing gay marriage. A companion bill would shield the clergy from being forced to perform gay marriages if it violates their conscience, something the First Amendment wouldn't permit anyway.

I can't think when a more repulsive piece of legislation has hit the Capitol floor in Lansing, or one that is more offensive to the Constitution.

There's no way a law compelling couples to participate in a religious ceremony would ever pass muster with the Founders. What the zealots are advocating is a Christian version of Sharia law.

Courser, in an posting headed "It's Time to End State Involvement in Marriage," explains: "Five Justices can take it upon themselves to take the holy God inspired and the defined institution of marriage of being between one man and one woman and turn it into a government sanctioned institution that is now defined by the power of government."

That is such a perversion of legal reality. While marriage is a sacred rite in most religions, for the purposes of the law it is a civil contract that is just as valid if it is officiated by a robed cleric in a cathedral or a Justice of the Peace working out of a drive-through window in Vegas. Without a state license, a religious marriage ceremony has no legal weight.

In pushing this absurdity, the zealots are giving the haters one more opportunity to paint Republicans as racists and bigots

"I'd like to say the damage is minimal, because they have isolated themselves in Lansing — they are a joke," says Greg McNeilly, a gay Republican consultant who says he feels "absolutely welcome and comfortable" in the party. "But they do a tremendous amount of damage because they fit into the broader narrative the mainstream media and pop culture have wanted to project on Republicans for ages. One could not construct a mold for Republicans that does more damage to the party than Todd Courser and Cindy Gamrat do. They are every Democrat's dream."

And every Republican's nightmare.



Follow Nolan Finley on Twitter at @nolanfinleydn, on Facebook at nolanfinleydetnews. Watch him at 7:30 p.m. Thursdays on "MiWeek" on Detroit Public TV, Channel 56.