Odawa Indians Perform First Gay Marriage in Michigan

In Michigan, where I live, a 2004 ballot measure amended the state Constitution to prohibit the state for recognizing same-sex marriages. That restriction is being challenged in Federal court, but a ruling on it has been delayed until the US Supreme Court decides the two same-sex marriage cases it recently heard arguments on.

In the meantime, the Little Traverse Bay Band of Odawa Indians tribal council recently voted to allow gay marriages and tribal chairman Dexter McNamara quickly performed the first such marriage in Michigan.

And because of tribal sovereignty, the state’s constitutional ban doesn’t apply here,

Out of 500 federally recognized tribes in the country, and a dozen in Michigan, the Odawa tribe became the first ever to legalize gay marriage in the state and only the third in the nation.

And because of tribal sovereignty, neither the state’s constitutional amendment prohibiting gay marriage nor the federal Defense of Marriage Act can stop them.


California’s Proposition 8 and the Double-Edged Sword of Judicial Activism

The Los Angeles Times ran an interesting story last week analyzing why Proposition 8 passed in California. Among other things, the story highlights the strategy by Proposition 8 supporters of trumpeting the alleged long-term effects of allowing gay marriage above and beyond the fact of the marriages themselves,

They were able to focus the debate on their assertion that without the ban, public school children would be indoctrinated into accepting gay marriage against their parents’ wishes, churches would be sanctioned for not performing same-sex weddings and the institution of marriage would be irreparably harmed.

Supporters of gay marriage, along with political leaders including Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-San Francisco) and the state’s superintendent of public instruction, denounced those messages as scare tactics, but they were not able to sway voters. Preliminary returns showed Proposition 8 passing 52% to 48%.

Repeatedly opponents of Proposition 8 said the idea that courts would force churches to perform same sex marraiges was absurd. But is it really any more absurd that a future court might require churches to perform same sex marraiges than it was that the California Supreme Court found a right to gay marriage in the state’s constitution to begin with?

After all, at one time it was probably considered absurd that courts would require Catholic charities Catholic Charities of Sacramento to cover birth control for their employees, but in 2004 the California Supreme Court ruled that, in fact, they were legally obligated to do so.

Or switch the positions here. In 2004, Michigan was one of 11 states that passed ballot initiatives banning gay marriage. One of the arguments that opponents of that ban made in Michigan was that the ban would have far-reaching effects including making it illegal for government agencies to offer health care benefits, etc. to domestic partners of gays and lesbians. Proponents of the ban ridiculed that claim and said all the initiative would do was ban marriage.

But in 2007, the Michigan Court of Appeals ruled that all domestic partner benefits (whether for heterosexual or homosexual couples) was unconstitutional under the marriage ban language, and earlier this year the Michigan Supreme Court agreed.

That’s the problem with this wave of judicial activism, whether it be for conservative or liberal purposes — it creates a great deal of uncertainty so that claims that a piece of legislation will or will not have a specific effects are largely meaningless.

Would the California Supreme Court require churches to marry gay couples? Almost certainly not, but who is to really say in an era of judicial activism on all sides.

Michigan Video Game Law Tossed

Back in 2005, our grandstanding governor Jennifer Granholm called for the legislature to pass a bill to ban the sale of “violent” video games to minors. The legislature granted her request, and the bill was signed into law in September of 2005.

This month, U.S. District Court Judge George Caram Steeh issued a permanent injunction against the ban, finding it unconstitutional. In his decision to issue the injunction, Steeh wrote that,

The interactive, or functional aspect, in video games can be said to enhance the expressive elements even more than other media by drawing the player closer to the characters and becoming more involved in the plot of the game than by simply watching a movie or television show. It would be impossible to separate the functional aspects of a video game from the expressive, inasmuch as they are so closely intertwined and dependent on each other in creating the virtual experience.

That’s a fancy way of saying that the interactive nature of video games does not — as Michigan had argued — provide them with less First Amendment protection than other media, such as novels or movies.

Although the Michigan law would have only prevented the sale of games to minors, Granholm showed her true intent in taking on the craptastic “25 to Life” (which Gamespot describes as “a lifelessly generic shooter that, at times, feels like Max Payne without the fun.”)

In an official press release Granholm argued that not only should the game not be sold to minors, but that it should not be stocked at all by Michigan retailers,

Governor Jennifer M. Granholm last week called on retailers across Michigan to support a national boycott of the video game “25 to Life” by not selling the game in their stores. In a letter to the retailers, Granholm said taking the game off store shelves is a critical step in the fight to keep inappropriate and dangerous forms of entertainment out of the hands of our children.

“Taking this game off your shelves is not only the best way to ensure that it does not end up in the hands of children, it also sends a message of support to our law enforcement community that we will not support those who would profit from the production and sale of such games, no matter what the intended audience,” Granholm wrote.

Right, and having Michigan cable companies boycott HBO is the best way to make sure children don’t watch “The Sopranos.”


Breaking: Michigan Violent Games Law Thrown Out. GameDaily, April 3, 2006.

Governor Granholm Continues to Fight to Keep Violent and Sexually Explicit Video Games Away from Children. Press Release, March 15, 2006.

Once Kids Go to The Circus, They Don’t Realize Animals Are Even Alive

The Royal Hanneford Circus spent five days in Westland, Michigan in July. Members of Animals Deserve Absolute Protection Today and Tomorrow showed up to protest.

ADAPTT member Jim McNellis summarized the group’s objection to circuses when he told a reporter for the Westland Observer,

The circus has no educational value. It’s teaching kids that animal are objects, not living creatures.

This is good to know — I’d hate to take my daughter to a circus and have her emerge thinking that elephants and lions are inanimate objects rather than living creatures. I’m not quite sure how seeing moving, animated animals would lead her to that conclusion, but its apparently had that effect on McNellis, so anything’s possible.


League’s circus attracts crowds and protesters. Darrell Clem, Westland Observer, July 31, 2005.

Activists Obtain Signatures to Put Michigan Dove Season on Ballot

Animal rights activists — funded by $100,000 from the Humane Society of the United States’ lobbying arm the HSUS Fund for Animals — apparently managed to collect more than enough signatures to place a measure to overturn Michigan’s recently approved dove hunt on the 2006 ballot.

In 2004, Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm signed legislation making Michigan the 41st state to allow hunting of mourning doves. The first hunt was held in September 2004. The initial hunt was limited to just six counties, to be expanded after at least three years if studies of the hunt prove to be consistent with good wildlife management policies.

HSUS canvassers needed to collect 159,000 signatures from Michigan residents to place the issue on the 2006 ballot, but collected about 275,000 according to the HSUS.

The HSUS’s Michael Markarian said in a press release,

The dove hunters brought this fight to Michigan after the state’s gentle and inoffensive mourning doves were protected here for several generations. The overwhelming statewide support for the petition drive shows that mainstream Michiganders want to restore the century-old ban on shooting doves. They don’t want the state’s official bird of peace blasted into pieces.

Remember, this comes from a group that claims it does not oppose hunting — apparently it just opposes the killing of animals by hunters!

U.S. Sportsmen’s Alliance president Bud Pidegon said in a press release,

National animal rights groups have invaded Michigan to spread their anti-hunting, anti-animal use agenda while attacking generations of sportsmen. They want to ban all hunting.

This should set up a very interesting showdown in a state where rural hunters are an important political bloc.


More Than 275,000 Signatures Collected to Allow Vote on Restoring Michigan’s Century-Old Dove Shooting Ban. Press Release, Humane Society of the United States, March 28, 2005.

PETA — Spare the Rod and Spoil the Fish

People for the Ethical Treatment for Animals activists showed up here in Michigan in February to protest the eating of fish. Karin Robertson, manager of PETA’s Fish Empathy Project, told the Cadillac News,

People are horrified when they hear how fish are treated, there is cruelty so horrendous that it would be criminal if performed on other animals.

I don’t know about that — fishing’s pretty popular here in Michigan and I think many people are aware of how fish are caught and processed without being horrified.

Anyway, on its website, PETA goes on at length about the “terror” fish face,

Imagine reaching for an apple on a tree and having your hand suddenly impaled by a metal hook that drags you—the whole weight of your body pulling on that one hand—out of the air and into an atmosphere in which you cannot breathe. This is what fish experience when they are hooked for “sport.”

Many people grow up fishing without ever considering the terror and suffering that fish endure when they’re impaled by a hook and pulled out of the water. Recreational anglers rarely stop to contemplate that fish are complex and intelligent individuals. In fact, if anglers treated cats, dogs, cows, or pigs the way they treat fish, they would be thrown in prison on charges of cruelty to animals.

PETA also extols the intelligence of fish, who are apparently even smarter than the average animal rights activist,

Many people have never stopped to think about it, but fish are smart, interesting animals with their own unique personalities—just like the dogs and cats we share our homes with [not if PETA had its way, however]. Did you know that fish can learn to avoid nets by watching other fish in their group and that they can recognize individual “shoal mates”? Some fish gather information by eavesdropping on others, and some—such as the South African fish who lay eggs on leaves so that they can carry them to a safe place—even use tools.

Hey, I’ve even heard that some fish are smart enough to eat other fish. They’re so smart, in fact, they don’t have to deal with activists urging them to go vegan.


PETA attempts to sway people from eating fish. Matt Whetstone, Cadillac News, February 10, 2005.