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DAILY TRIBUNE — Gay marriage activists raise awareness of legal rights of partners

July 10, 2011
Michigan “one of the states that’s the
farthest behind in legalizing gay marriage”

“‘There’s a constitutional amendment in Michigan prohibiting gay marriage, defining marriage between one man and one woman. We’re probably one of the states that’s the farthest behind in legalizing gay marriage. We have to change the constitution before we can pass a bill,’ said (Kathleen LaCosch, chief administrative officer of Affirmations, a homosexual activist group in Ferndale).”

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DAILY TRIBUNE
Royal Oak, Michigan
July 9, 2011

Gay marriage activists raise
awareness of legal rights of partners

by Monica Drake
For the Daily Tribune

Former Village of Oxford resident and Oxford High School student Jeremy Martin with his boyfriend Jeremy Lodwig, said if gay marriage was legal in Michigan, he would like to get married in his home state.

New York’s same-sex marriage law goes into effect July 24, but Kathleen LaCosch, chief administrative officer of Affirmations in Ferndale, said gay people in Michigan have a long way to go until they can get married, too.

“There’s a constitutional amendment in Michigan prohibiting gay marriage, defining marriage between one man and one woman. We’re probably one of the states that’s the farthest behind in legalizing gay marriage.

“We have to change the constitution before we can pass a bill,” said LaCosch.

“(In Michigan) when a person’s partner dies, that person’s family of origin can come in and take the house and make decisions about the funeral and burial and leave that significant other — who may have been their partner for 50 years — completely out in the cold. I’ve seen it time and time again.”

LaCosch said the legalization of gay marriage in New York is “a step in the right direction to have gay marriage legalized nationwide.

“It’s the most populous state that has legalized gay marriage. It’s a significant increase of people who now have protection,” said LaCosch.

Former Village of Oxford resident Jeremy Martin, 24, said he wanted to marry Jeremy Lodwig, his partner of three years, in his home state of Michigan, but he said they will now have to travel out of state to get married.

Martin said he doesn’t think legalizing gay marriage nationwide would help people become more accepting, though.

“I think if gay marriage is legalized nationwide, it will cause more segregation. I think there will be more bashing. Not everyone is accepting of it, and basically, if it becomes legal in the whole United States, it’s basically forcing our sexuality and our point of view down other peoples’ throats. Just because it’s legalized doesn’t mean people will be OK with it. Medical marijuana is legal too, but not everyone agrees with it,” said Martin.

Debbie Kingsley, family service counselor for Roseland Park Cemetery in Berkley, said she never realized before working at the cemetery that gay couples could be denied being buried together as well.

”When people come in after someone has died suddenly, they are just so emotionally distraught to begin with to even think, ‘What do you mean, I can’t be buried next to my partner?’ It can be very upsetting,” said Kingsley. “I’m guessing most people would never guess that could be an issue. I wanted to get the word out to prevent heartache in the future for families that are just trying to make arrangements.”

Michigan attorney Kevin McNulty said the only legal way to protect partnerships in Michigan is to sign a partnership agreement giving some legal force to their relationship. He also suggested partners name each other as Durable Power of Attorney, allowing them to speak on behalf of a partner if they are not able to speak for themselves.

LaCosch said she knows many medical personnel are not aware of this. “I talked to someone two weeks ago who was in a medical situation where his partner needed help. They had all the paperwork, they had the medical power of attorney, and still, the doctors and nurses would not let him go into the hospital room with his partner to help make medical decisions,” said LaCosch.

Martin said he wants Lodwig to be his Durable Power of Attorney. “If I’m on my death bed and hooked up to wires, it’s up to Jeremy (Lodwig) and my mom to determine if I should be kept on life support,” said Martin.

http://www.dailytribune.com/articles/2011/07/09/news/doc4e18e2aeb01c8051929851.txt?viewmode=fullstory
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