The legal status of same-sex marriage here in Michigan was taken for quite the ride over the weekend. Late Friday afternoon, Federal District Judge Bernard Friedman declared Michigan’s 2004 ban on gay marriage unconstitutional. By Saturday afternoon, the clerks in four Michigan counties – Washtenaw, Muskegon, Oakland and Ingham – issued hundreds of marriage licenses to same-sex couples. Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette’s request to put the ruling on hold was granted by the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati. That temporary hold lasts until Wednesday.
A federal judge in Detroit will hear opening arguments today on a case that could potentially overturn Michigan’s ban on same-sex marriage. In 2012, two lesbian nurses sued Governor Rick Snyder and Attorney General Bill Schuette. The couple is raising three special needs children, but they cannot legally adopt them unless they are married.
Michigan’s ban on same-sex marriages remains in place. Yesterday, U.S. District Judge Bernard Friedman chose to hold a trial in February in the case in which a lesbian couple from Hazel Park is seeking to overturn the state’s laws that prohibit same-sex couples from marrying and entering into joint adoptions.
Paul Holland (left) and Austin Ashley (right) plan a commitment ceremony in September before headed to New York to be formally married. They say they’d get married in Michigan if the state’s same-sex marriage is struck down and gay weddings allowed by a federal judge.
Gay rights activists cheered two decisions yesterday by the U.S. Supreme Court. One overturns the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), the other essentially allows same-sex marriages in the state of California. Among other things, the DOMA ruling means many gay spouses will be able to receive Social Security benefits, jointly file tax returns and share healthcare plans without a tax penalty.
A federal judge in Detroit postponed his ruling on gay marriage in Michigan to wait for the Supreme Court’s decision, which will likely come out in June. Penny Gardner, president of the Lansing Association for Human Rights, offers her reaction.