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6th Circuit Stays Historic Michigan Gay Marriage Ruling

Michigan couples who married Saturday after U.S. District Judge Bernard Friedman declared the state's voter-backed gay marriage ban unconstitutional are in now in legal limbo.

Same-sex couples, some shown at the Oakland County Courthouse, are in a sort of legal limbo after the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals stayed Friday's ruling turning back a ban on gay marriage. (Photo: Getty/AFP, Bill Pugliano)
Same-sex couples, some shown at the Oakland County Courthouse, are in a sort of legal limbo after the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals stayed Friday's ruling turning back a ban on gay marriage. (Photo: Getty/AFP, Bill Pugliano)

The 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has issued an emergency stay late Saturday that at least temporarily puts same-sex couples’ ability to marry on hold after Friday’s historic ruling turning back a 10-year voter-backed ban on gay marriage in Michigan.

The Appeals Court initially signaled it would not intervene in the case until Tuesday, the Detroit Free Press reports. The stay is imposed until Wednesday

Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette asked the ruling be stayed pending an appeal, arguing that  overturning the ban violated the will of Michigan voters who “recognized that diversity in parenting is best for kids and families because moms and dads are not interchangeable.

“To allow a more reasoned consideration of the motion to stay, it is ordered that the district court judgment is temporarily stayed until Wednesday,” the 6th Circuit said in an order late Saturday.

Arguments could be heard Wednesday by the court, which also is considering appeals of same-sex marriage cases in Kentucky and Ohio, according to a report in the Detroit News.

The stay puts gay couples who rushed to the altar to marry in a legal gray area. County clerks offices in Oakland, Washtenaw and Muskegon opened Saturday to perform marriages, the Free Press said.

Some experts, including University of Detroit Mercy law professor Lawrence Dubin, said newly married Michigan gay couples’ legal status hinges on “future events” decided by the 6th Circuit.

But Anna Kirkland, a professor of women’s studies and political science at the University of Michigan told the Detroit News that a ruling by a federal judge “on the meaning of the Equal Protection Clause … is binding on the state government.”

In his ruling Friday, U.S. District Judge Bernard Friedman said the constitutional amendment banning gay marriage, backed by 2.7 million Michigan voters in 2004, violates the U.S. Constitution’s Equal Protection Clause and does not advance state interests.

Friedman’s ruling came after a stormy nine-day trial prompted  by April DeBoer and Jayne Rowse, two nurses from Hazel Park who have been together for a decade, but were prohibited from jointly adopting children because they didn’t have a legal marriage. Rowse has two adopted children and DeBoer has one, but without the protection of marriage, they feared that in the event of either of their deaths, the surviving parent might not get custody of all three children.

Same-sex couples who flocked to the Oakland County Courthouse to marry Saturday are in a sort of legal limbo after the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals interviewed and stayed the historic ruling turning back Michigan’s 10-year-old constitutional amendment banning gay marriage. 

Dale Murrish March 24, 2014 at 07:03 PM
You guys may be right. But the Appeals Court has not ruled yet. You'll recall that the Transit Center ruling was overturned...
Dale Murrish March 24, 2014 at 07:05 PM
Fine legal minds with opinions on both sides of this issue. "Marriage equality" may someday be the law of the USA. If so, then the religious freedom question will be foremost. http://troy.patch.com/groups/dale-murrishs-blog/p/religious-liberty-defended-by-adf
Daffy Noodnicks March 24, 2014 at 07:16 PM
No legal argument has held up in court against marriage equality, and it won't, because there is no rational basis for it. Your "religious freedom" question is also addressed in the opinion of the court. Why don't you read it? There is also no rational basis for that either.
Dale Murrish March 24, 2014 at 07:23 PM
Perhaps this one judge in this court; not all courts. SCOTUS is hearing the Hobby Lobby case right now. Different issue, but similar religious objection.
Daffy Noodnicks March 24, 2014 at 07:34 PM
Completely different issues. This issue has been brought up in Texas, Utah, many other states all other the same result.

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