Even Michigan Republicans think its state government is too anti-gay

Michigan’s state government is not representative of its people. The state voted for Barack Obama twice and has two Democratic senators, yet its governor and both houses of its legislature are Republican — as are nine of its fourteen members of Congress.

One would think that Michigan’s blue streak would lead its Republican leadership to back away from the culture war issues that have been steadily moving away from them, but you’d be wrong. The state has granted religious exemptions for adoption agencies that allows them to refuse to work with same-sex couples while still receiving state funding. It is considering a proposal that would prohibit anyone other than a member of the clergy from performing a marriage. And it remains legal in Michigan to fire an employee, or deny a renter an apartment, for being gay.

Public Policy Polling asked Michigan voters what they thought about those three policy issues and — surprise! — the voters don’t like what their state government is up to:

  • 68% of Michigan voters support legislation that would make it illegal to fire or deny an apartment to someone over their sexual orientation. That includes 76% of Democrats, 66% of independents and 60% of Republicans.
  • 69% oppose the proposal that would require the clergy to sign off on all marriages, with 73% of independents, 71% of Democrats and 63% of Republicans¬†in opposition.
  • 52% agreed that adoptions agencies that receive money from the state should not be allowed to discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation.

The poll also found support for background checks on gun purchases above 80 percent for all partisan groups. As the polling firm remarked when releasing the survey, “We just don’t see that kind of agreement across party lines on just about anything.”

Michigan Republicans are busy carrying out a theological agenda while their voters — even the ones in their base — are telling them to stop. That’s put downward pressure on Governor Rick Snyder’s approval rating, which now stands at 40%. That’s double the 20% approval rating Michigan voters give its state legislature, which is so unpopular that ever Republicans give it a net-negative rating, with 33% approving and 39% disapproving of their job performance.

One would think that the lesson here would be to not pursue policies that your voters hate, but you’d be wrong. The lesson here is to not waste the governing power you have. Get in office; push as many reactionary bills through as you possibly can; and hope a few of them involved changing the rules regarding who gets to vote and where the district lines are drawn so that you can do it all over again.


Jon Green graduated from Kenyon College with a B.A. in Political Science and high honors in Political Cognition. He worked as a field organizer for Congressman Tom Perriello in 2010 and a Regional Field Director for President Obama's re-election campaign in 2012. Jon writes on a number of topics, but pays especially close attention to elections, religion and political cognition. Follow him on Twitter at @_Jon_Green, and on Google+. .

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