Metro / Politics

Same-sex marriage in Michigan left in legal limbo after weekend court orders

Plaintiffs to lift the ban on gay marriage, April DeBoer, background left, and her partner Jayne Rowse, stand outside Federal Court in Detroit, Tuesday, Feb. 25, 2014 on a lunch break during their trial. (Mandi Wright/Detroit Free Press/MCT)

Plaintiffs to lift the ban on gay marriage, April DeBoer, background left, and her partner Jayne Rowse, stand outside Federal Court in Detroit, Tuesday, Feb. 25, 2014 on a lunch break during their trial. (Mandi Wright/Detroit Free Press/MCT)

When Brighton senior William Joseph learned of Friday’s court order ruling Michigan’s ban on same-sex marriage unconstitutional, it came as a welcomed surprise.

“The decision makes sense,” Joseph said. “If you look at what’s happened in other states over the past several months, it’s where the country is headed.”

On Friday, U.S. District Judge Bernard Friedman found Michigan’s ban on same-sex marriage, approved by voters in 2004, unconstitutional. It violates the 14th Amendment’s equal protection clause, he stated.

“In attempting to define this case as a challenge to ‘the will of the people,’ state defendants lost sight of what this case is truly about: people,” Friedman wrote in his ruling. “No court record of this proceeding could ever fully convey the personal sacrifice of these two plaintiffs who seek to ensure that the state may no longer impair the rights of their children and the thousands of others now being raised by same-sex couples.”

Following the order, Attorney General Bill Schuette filed an emergency request for a stay in court.

The U.S. Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals granted a stay on Saturday effective through Wednesday, meaning same-sex marriages are put on hold at least until then.

“In 2004, the citizens of Michigan recognized that diversity in parenting is best for kids and families because moms and dads are not interchangeable,” Schuette said in a statement. “Michigan voters enshrined that decision in our state constitution, and their will should stand and be respected.”

However, about 100 same-sex couples married in Michigan between Friedman’s order and the circuit court’s stay ruling. It is unclear if the state will recognize those marriages.

The issue of same-sex marriage is likely to stay at the forefront of state politics over the coming days and weeks as the case moves through court and the 2014 elections.

Joseph, a political science student, said he thinks the issue is likely to remain a “hot topic” this year. He said the legislation might give Democrats an advantage over Republicans in November.

“The fact that the attorney general appealed it wasn’t a surprise,” Joseph said. “He’s a Republican, we’ve got a Republican governor, a Republican Legislature. The Republican Party, obviously, hasn’t made equality one of its goals.”

It would not be the first time same-sex marriage played a large role in an election year.

In 2004, 58 percent of Michigan voters approved the amendment to the state’s constitution currently in question, which defines marriage as between “one man and one woman.”

Since then, however, voters’ attitudes on same-sex marriage appear to have shifted significantly.

A survey released earlier this month by Michigan State University, conducted over eight weeks ending on Feb. 10, found that 54 percent of Michiganders support “the right of gay and lesbian couples to be legally married,” compared to 36 percent who are opposed. The poll was conducted via landline and cell phone to 1,008 respondents statewide and has a margin of error of 3.1 percent.

Gov. Rick Snyder’s office indicated it intends to continue enforcing the state constitution’s 2004 amendment.

“Michigan’s statute and our state’s Constitution are very clear on this matter,” Snyder spokesperson Sara Wurfel said in a statement. “This was not about LGBT or adoption issues, but about obligation to defend the law and Constitution as people wrote or amended it, and the voter-initiated language in the Constitution clearly prohibits him from giving the benefits of marriage to a same-sex couple.”

Snyder’s likely Democratic opponent, Mark Schauer, called Friedman’s ruling a “major victory” in a statement.

“While I know there are differing views on this issue, I firmly believe every Michigander deserves equal protection under the law, and today’s ruling reaffirms this fundamental American value,” he said.

Seventeen states, along with the District of Columbia, recognize same-sex marriage. Michigan joins Texas, Oklahoma, Utah, Virginia and Kentucky as states with constitutional bans on same-sex marriage overturned in court and put on stay.

8 Comments

  1. good…/,.,.,/./.,/

  2. CMLife is all liberal all the time

  3. michmediaperson says:

    Ronald Reagan has to be turning over in his grave.

    What John Irvin fails to tell you along with the extreme left-wing liberal media, is that Judge Friedman was appointed to the court BY CONSERVATIVE REPUBLICAN PRESIDENT RONALD REAGAN in the 1980s. Look it up on wikipedia.

    So, it was the liberal Democrats in the 1990s—President Bill Clinton (Hillary’s husband), Carl Levin and the Democratic Party that passed the Defense of Marriage Act in 1996 banning homosexual marriage in all 50 states.

    It was hundreds of thousands of Democrats who joined Independents and Republicans in a bi-partisan vote in 2004 to ban homosexual marriage in Michigan.

    Last Friday, a Republican-appointed Judge by conservative Ronald Reagan created a coup and overturned the 2004 election when 59 percent of a bi-partisan Michigan voted to keep morality in place and ban homosexual marriage.

    Reagan has to be turning over in his grave. A Republican-appointed Judge did this.

    Thank you Bill Schuette, our great attorney general, for fighting for the 59 percent of Michigan voters and trying to get the stay needed so we can tie this up in the courts for years to come.

    If the homosexuals want to marry, then they need to collect the necessary signatures, get it placed on the November elections and hope that 50 percent plus one additional voter will approve gay marriage. Then, I’m OK with it since the people will have spoken INSTEAD OF 1 ROGUE Judge who was appointed mistakingly by the great Ronald Reagan.

    This was a coup, the overall throw of an election.

    If we are going to base everything on opinion polls, instead of elections, then it’s time this week to have Barack Hussein Obama and Joe Biden removed from office since their approval ratings are hovering around 39 percent. Same scenerio. Let’s overthrow the presidential election of 2012 just like the Left wants to overthrow the 2004 Michigan election.

    • It was blatantly unconstitutional and was fraudulently sold to the public with a pack of bigoted lies. “The bible says” is no basis for law in this country. However, what did it say about “bear[ing] false witness against thy neighbor”? And what was the response purportedly given by Jesus to the question of who qualified as one’s “neighbor”? You wonder why “kids these days” don’t care so much about religion. Maybe they learned it from watching people like you. Deal with that plank in your own eye first.

      For all the whining about “Sharia law” from your kind, one might expect you’d show more appreciation for not being shackled by religion-based laws. Only, that is, if one weren’t aware of how hypocritical you are. If you want to live in a theocracy, feel free to leave, and take Bill Schuette and Rick Snyder with you.

  4. michmediaperson says:

    Hey Kyle, you’re the one with a problem.
    I want to live in a country that follows constitutional law.
    59 percent of Michigan voters voted to ban homosexual marriage. If you want to remove the ban, then put it up to a vote. If it passes, I can live with that. It’s immoral, against the Bible but I can live with it since the people approved it. Michigan is NOT a banana republic where a judge or a dictator can dictate against the people’s wishes.
    This judge went against 59 percent of the people.

    As much as I don’t like the policies of Barack Hussein Obama, I would be against some Judge ordering him out of the White House prior to January 20, 2017 because his opinion polls are at 39 percent approval. There are constitutional means to remove a president but opinion polls is not one of them.

    Kyle, you don’t respect the Constitution and the rule of law. Get a petition drive going and put it on the ballot.

    Fraudently sold???? So, can a Judge remove Obama, Levin, Stabenow and Peters from office today for fraudulently selling Obamacare to the voters that if you like your doctor, you can keep him or her and all the other lies about Obamacare.

    • Yeah, my problem is lying bigots such as yourself.

      The U.S. Constitution has supremacy over that of Michigan: Article 6, Clause 2.

      The ban violates the U.S. Constitution, therefore, it can not stand. Therefore, hypothetically, you should be relieved that it’s evidence that you “live in a country that follows constitutional law.” However, you’re a hypocritical banana Republican, so you throw a temper tantrum instead.

      If the population of Michigan voted to amend Michigan’s constitution such that you must be tortured for the rest of your life, your bigoted, ignorant self wouldn’t cry about a federal judge saving your hide.

      “It’s immoral, against the Bible but I can live with it.” That fits much better as a reference to your own conduct.

  5. shadowdancer says:

    Only one problem with this article…there were over 300 couples who were married during the small window that we had on Saturday. This is only a measure of those performed by county clerks, so there are likely many more performed by clergy in communities across Michigan.

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