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The Law Blogger is a law-related blog that informs and discusses current matters of legal interest to readers of The Oakland Press and to consumers of legal services in the community. We hope readers will  find it entertaining but also informative. The Law Blogger does not, however, impart legal advice, as only attorneys are licensed to provide legal counsel.
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Saturday, March 22, 2014

Michigan's Ban on Same-Sex Marriage Ruled Unconstitutional

Michigan's first couple
with their lawyer.
United States District Court Judge Bernard Friedman, in a historic ruling, not only held that Michigan's ban on same-sex marriages, set forth in our state constitution, violates the U.S. Constitution, he also refused to stay his ruling.  This means that marriage licenses are being issued here in Oakland County and across the state as this post is being composed.

Citing United States v Windsor, the federal court ruled that Article I, section 25 of Michigan's Constitution violated the Equal Protection clause of the U.S. Constitution, as applied to the states through the 14th Amendment's Due Process clause.  Judge Friedman concluded his 30-page opinion in very plain terms:
In attempting to define this case as a challenge to the 'will of the people', state defendants lost sight of what this case is really about: people. 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. It is the Court's fervent hope that these children will grow up, 'to understand the integrity and closeness of their own family and its concord with other families in their communities and in their daily lives.' [quoting SCOTUS language from Windsor]
Because Judge Friedman refused to stay the effect of his ruling to accommodate an appeal from the state defendants, the Michigan Attorney General filed an emergency motion for a stay with the United States Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals.  Look for Judge Friedman's ruling to be appealed and consolidated with other similar federal court rulings on same-sex marriages currently pending throughout the Sixth Circuit [Michigan, Ohio, Kentucky, and Tennessee].

Meanwhile, however, game on!  Before the press even got hold of the DeBoer opinion and order, county clerks in Ingham, Oakland, Washtenaw and Muskegon announced Saturday hours for the express purpose of issuing same-sex marriage licenses.

According to the Freep, the first official same-sex marriage took place shortly after 8:00 am today in the lobby of the historic Mason courthouse.

Update: Sunday, 03/22/2014.  Not so fast.  In an apparent reverse of their earlier indication that they were not planning to interfere with Michigan's federal same-sex marriage case, the U.S. Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals issued a temporary stay until this Wednesday, "to allow a more reasoned consideration of the [Michigan Attorney General's] motion to stay.". This means that no more same-sex marriage licenses can be issued by the county clerks until the federal appellate court lifts the stay.

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