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Most Michiganders approve of gay marriage

In 2004, a majority of Michigan voters approved an amendment to the state constitution, banning any recognition of marriage or civil unions between same-sex couples.

Just nine years later, it appears there has been a sea change.

A new poll, paid for by Chicago-based marketing consulting company, the Glengariff Group, finds that not only do most respondents agree the 2004 amendment should be reversed, they also support immediately replacing the ban with a new amendment, protecting marriage rights for gay and lesbian residents of the state.

The gay rights group Equality Michigan says the poll shows the issue has become much less partisan than in the past.  56 percent of people who identified as "strongly Republican," said they would support such a change. 

Emily Dievendorf, managing director of Equality Michigan, says her group and others are preparing for a 2016 bid to ask voters to repeal the marriage ban for lesbian and gay people, and replace it with marriage rights instead - but she says something has to come first. 

She says the state's Elliot-Larsen Civil Rights Act has to be amended to give lesbian, gay, transgender and bisexual people the same protections from discrimination in the workplace and housing as other groups.  The act protects people from being fired or evicted because of religion, race, color, national origin, age, sex, height, weight and marital status.

"We don't want to set up a situation where you can get married on Friday, and then fired legally from your workplace for an arbitrary reason on Monday," says Dievendorf.

The new poll is in line with several recent national polls on the issue, showing that a majority of Americans, including a majority of Republicans, believe it should be legal for same-sex couples to marry.

Tracy Samilton covers energy and transportation, including the auto industry and the business response to climate change for Michigan Radio. She began her career at Michigan Radio as an intern, where she was promptly “bitten by the radio bug,” and never recovered.