Mich. gay marriage lawsuit to go on trial in Feb.

Same-sex couples queued up all afternoon at county courthouses, some even carrying wedding flowers. Then a federal judge deciding whether to throw out Michigan's gay marriage ban shocked everyone, saying simply: Wait 'til next year.
AP Wire
Oct 17, 2013

After hearing arguments and poring over a stack of legal briefs, U.S. District Judge Bernard Friedman said Wednesday he needs to hear from experts on Feb. 25 before settling the fate of a 2004 Michigan constitutional amendment that recognizes marriage as being only between a man and a woman.

"This was never a scenario we imagined," Oakland County Clerk Lisa Brown said. Same-sex couples were at her office, anxious to get a marriage license if the judge ruled in their favor.

"One couple has been together for 53 years," Brown added. "I think they've waited long enough."

The lawsuit, brought by Jayne Rowse and April DeBoer, two Detroit-area nurses in a lesbian relationship, argues that Michigan's constitutional amendment violates the U.S. Constitution's Equal Protection Clause, which forbids states from treating people differently. The amendment was approved by 59 percent of voters in 2004.

Friedman clearly caught lawyers on both sides off guard, as they had agreed to have him decide the issue on arguments and briefs.

More than 100 people were in the courtroom, anticipating a decision in favor of gay marriage, and dozens more watched a video feed of the hearing in a nearby room. A groan went up in that room when Friedman said he's not ready to make a decision.

Thirteen states and the District of Columbia allow gay marriage.

An attorney for Michigan said the U.S. Supreme Court has recognized that states have authority to regulate marriage. Kristin Heyse noted that more than 2.5 million voters supported the amendment.

"The people of the state of Michigan should be allowed to decide Michigan law. This is not the proper forum to decide social issues," Heyse, an assistant attorney general, told the judge.

Rowse, 49, and DeBoer, 42, who have lived together for about eight years, declined comment outside court.

"We were all hoping for an immediate ruling, but they understand it's a very long process," Dana Nessel, co-counsel for the couple, told reporters.

Ninety miles away in Ingham County, Marnee Rutledge and Samantha Wolf were disappointed, too. Rutledge had a pink flower pinned to her shirt, while Wolf carried a bouquet of flowers that Rutledge gave her when proposing earlier in the day. They had a summer ceremony nearby in Holt that wasn't legal.

"We are in our minds married," Wolf said at the courthouse in Mason. "We had a ceremony, we took our vows. That we aren't afforded the same rights as everybody who has stood up in front of their priest and loved ones — that's wrong."

Bonnie Jean of Mount Clemens in suburban Detroit legally married Heidi Jean in 2007 in Ontario, Canada, but said the marriage has no standing in Michigan. Bonnie is due to give birth to a boy in December.

"I'm already married to a woman. It's recognized by the federal government, but not the state," said Bonnie, who attended the hearing.

The state of Michigan says heterosexual marriage provides the best family setting for children, while attorneys for Rowse and DeBoer say research shows there's no difference for kids in same-sex households.

"The parties must be afforded the opportunity to develop their own record in this matter with the benefit of calling witnesses and subjecting them to cross-examination," Friedman said in an eight-page order.

Rowse and DeBoer's lawsuit began as a challenge to a Michigan law that prevents them from adopting each other's kids, but the case took an extraordinary turn a year ago when Friedman suggested they refile it to target the gay marriage ban.

During the hearing, co-counsel Carole Stanyar argued that the Michigan marriage amendment "enshrines" discrimination. She said U.S. history has at times revealed a lack of humanity, "but at times we right ourselves ... and reaffirm the principle that there are no second-class citizens."

Christine Weick drove 175 miles from Hopkins in western Michigan to hold a sign that said God opposes gay marriage. She stood outside the courthouse but across the street from a few dozen gay marriage supporters.

"I said, 'Lord, what if I'm the only one out here?' And look, I'm the only one here," Weick said.



I read a related article from another news source a couple days ago and they listed the 8 counties in Michigan that are working on this movement. All 8 counties were in the bay region/Detroit/East Side of Lansing. None were in the U.P. and none were in West Michigan. I'd like to question why it would be specific to certain regions within the state. It's nothing more than an observation.


Let them marry!

It takes far more energy to hate. Let others share the rights of marriage regardless of sexuality, race or religion.


Wait until next year gays. I just dont understand. I am not married. What are the big advantages (becides some taxbreaks) of being married? The gays should be happy they cant get married. This stops the alimony, fighting for possesions that happen during a divorce. Once the gays get what they want, they will realize that the grass is not always greener on the other side of the fence, and will wish that they didnt have the 'right' to get married.


They have the right to feel the same level of regret. As americans they should be afforded all the same rights good or bad as every other american.

End of story!


back in the day when my uncle came back from Korea, he said he met a Korean girl and going to bring her back and marry her, witch he did, some how it seemed all right with everyone, but today with all the mixed marriages of all sorts, some reason it just do not seem right, i guess i am just old school type of person and having a hard time excepting todays world


Do you have any nieces and nephews from this marriage? If so, then that's the difference between nature and what the liberals want to force on the citizens of Michigan, unless homosexual couples can adopt.


Man, you really need help.


Ok, so if a woman is born with an inability to produce children, she should not be allowed to marry, as she is unnatural and cannot produce children.

Same can be said of a man born sterile.

Your logic is awesome sir.


Well, maybe there is an assumption being made, specifically, that for all men, the appeal of being in an intimate relationship with other men is so strong that were it not for societal condemnation of homosexual relationships, the rate of reproduction would drop to a level that would not sustain the species! Maybe this is the assumption that is missing from my line of reasoning...

EDIT: I don't think this post was particularly constructive... I admit that this argument doesn't hold a lot of water for me (see my later post).


I do not wish to berate you for just proposing a possible reason, but when the government gets involved with population control via birth rates, I think that invites a level of horror I'm not willing to consider.

Case in point China: http://www.womensrightswithoutfr...


I don't think you need the adoption caveat - if you are saying that heterosexuality is the only natural sexuality, because it allows procreation, then adoption still does nothing to help procreation. The ability to adopt doesn't hurt your argument.

However, my belief is that the government should stay out of encouraging or discouraging social behaviors except where those behaviors have a real material affect on others - e.g., murder, battery, theft and fraud. Forming incentives to encourage marital contracts does nothing but cause people to enter into religious bonds for the wrong reasons, e.g., for tax benefits, to enter into contracts jointly. Separate religious marriage from a civil union for everyone! Let the churches then decide whose marital bonds they will or will not bless!


Hold on a second. Marriage does not have to be and for many is not a religious experience. This should not be about religion or lack there of.

Marriage (also called matrimony or wedlock) is a socially or ritually recognized union or legal contract between spouses that establishes rights and obligations between them, between them and their children, and between them and their in-laws.

Marriage is a legal contract between two people. It is not a religious endeavor or celebration. If your religion chooses to identify with marriage as a religious ceremony, then more power to you. But the government, the US Government should not engage in religious doctrine, as we have a government founded on the separation of church and state.


Ok, we appear to be in violent agreement here. I said religion, you said ritual, but my point was that government shouldn't be involved in the aspect (whatever word you use for it) around which people have such emotional and long-held beliefs. I agree that [governmentally-recognized union contracts between adults] should not involve religion, but for many (maybe most), they do, and that is why decoupling the term used by the state, and the one used by the church, might be helpful in achieving equality.

I'm fine with not using the term "marriage" for the legal contract you describe. The concept of "marriage" originated before there were state or federal governments, so for my part I concede the term to the institutions that predate our government. The word itself needn't serve any particular significance as far as the contract is concerned, and using a different one (for all such unions) helps to invalidate part of the argument against allowing homosexuals to enjoy the same rights as heterosexuals.

For the record (and I'm not sure if you used 'your' to refer to me specifically, or to everyone), when I was married, it was not a religious affair, and I am glad that the governments of the states recognize such a "civil" union.

See German laws regarding such unions for an example of a present implementation.


My apologies, the way I read your comments, I assumed you were advocating for the use of marriage to mean religious and union to mean civil.

I don't know that a term change is the solution here. The state or governing body can call it what ever they wish. Any religious beliefs associated with the "union" or "marriage" needs to stay in the church, place of worship or home. I don't care to know the details, and I don't care to know your beliefs about it. (And yes when I say your(s) I'm implying those who have an issue with civil unions and religious unions and imposing their beliefs upon others.)

Though the origin for marriage or union is varied, it is largely believed marriage was initially utilize as a means to identify ownership. In that the husband would own the wife(s). People in olden times were A-Holes. :)


I suppose I was indeed advocating for that terminology. Either way is fine with me. There are people for whom marriage is necessarily the religious union, and I would concede the term to them. We may disagree on whether that is acceptable.

I don't think terminology will fix everything, but whatever separation there is now between a religious union and a civil union, it gets muddied when the same term is used for both. My opinion is that they should be separate, and that today they are not in that the law says it must be between a man and a woman, and that that has been imposed at the state level for tradition/religious reasons.

And I am very sure my wife would never accept the proto-definition of marriage that you explained :)


Nor would my wife. But that's change. We no longer view weddings in this manner. (In this country)

But that does not change the fact that we are still talking about the union of two people. And calling it a different name based on religion is fine, but when the government starts to dictate who can and who can't get married, then you are trampling on the basic rights of the citizens the government is suppose to protect.

I think changing the terminology other than to unify the naming conventions for all citizens is stupid. (I'm implying the government calling it one thing for this group of people and this for another group of people.) As it's making appeasements to those who hold a specific religious belief. And the government should not give a damn about a persons religious affiliation other then to acknowledge the fact, that it doesn't give a damn about your religious affiliation. ;)


It is not for us to judge others, if the state says let them marry then so be it. We as individual believers are to follow what we believe is a true, faithful and righteous path, God's great commission directs us to "minister" and not "master". Hate begets more hate and anger, it separates and divides, God made all of us and tells us to hate sin not sinners, and to begin by removing the beam from our own eye before we may speak of the sliver in the eye of our brother.


Pardon, but what sin are we talking about here?


All of them.

Tri-cities realist

"It is not for us to judge others." In a religious sense, you are correct. But why can't we judge the state's actions and laws? After all, the state is us (or at least it is supposed to be.)


The only sense that matters is the spiritual sense. We are to judge deeds and no further.


nope, dont matter what you say, you can not convince me, two guys, two women, its all sick


It's ok to be a biggot. Own up to it. Be Proud!


thank you,

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