Demonstrators Try to Stay Warm, While State’s Case Runs Cold

Demonstrators Try to Stay Warm, While State’s Case Runs Coldmoderntax

by Crystal A. Proxmire

News spread quickly Sunday that over 100 Detroit-based pastors would be convening at the Federal Courthouse Monday to protest marriage equality.  Rumors put expected turnout as high as 600.  The Detroit Police stood ready with extra officers in the area and an elevated observation platform.  The media turned out in force.  And about 50 pro-equality folks with rainbow-decorated signs and flags bundled up in bitter cold temperatures ready to counter the crowds.  They came to support April DeBoer and Jane Rowse, a Hazel Park couple that is suing the state for the right to marry and to jointly adopt their children.

But the crowds of ministers did not come in the morning as expected, only the die-hard Ypsilanti-based “Biblical Marriage” supporters who have been there every day with professionally-made signs and coordinated shifts of pacing in front of the building.  They blended peacefully with the pro-equality BTLWeddingExpo_144x360supporters, in a moving circle with clusters from each side, alternating with each other.  For about an hour they walked – long enough to be seen by the entering attorneys and observers and the media. Then the cold sent most everyone away.

The lack of ministry presence provided a more peaceful than expected backdrop for the 8:45am press conference where members of the Jim Toy Center presented the couple with check towards their legal fees. Most of the money was raised during the Equality Cabaret held last week in Ann Arbor.

“This is from the Jim toy center in Ann Arbor.  We were tired and raised over [unintelligible] dollars for you guys. It’s just a start, a drop in the bucket. It takes a lot to do this and we all are standing with you,” an organizer from the group said.

DeBoer and Rowse spoke with visible breath in the harsh cold air, talking to reporters before going in to hear the state present their first witnesses.

“We are excited. Our attorneys have done a great job building the case. And we’re just excited waiting to hear the verdict and what the judge has to say,” DeBoer said.” We love the supporters, that’s fantastic. We’re glad they’re out here and we’re sorry that it’s so cold. It’s devotion, you know. We all stand by each other. They’re not standing behind us, they’re standing with us.”Street-Eatzz-Ad

When asked if she was nervous, Rowse answered, “I think the nerves ended about two years ago.”

Once the parties were inside, and the morning’s protestors and supporters had dispersed, about 30 black Detroit ministers joined about 20 of the “Traditional Marriage” supporters and circled the building singing hymns and saying Bible verses.  The arrived around 11am, in time to catch the noon news programs and enjoy slightly warmer weather.
Pastor Colwell of first Baptist world changers in Detroit was among those walking with Bible in hand.  “We are here for our voting rights and to protect the marriage amendment. 2.5 million voters went to the polls and voted to protect the marriage right. One man one woman. And we believe that we want to protect it and not change it. There are pastors surrounding all over the Michigan region that support, Over 100+ pastors and congregants standing for our rights,” he said.

gallowaycollens1Mônté Álbért of Ferndale came with a large sign telling protestors that marriage pre-dated the Bible. “I feel like state and church should be separate. Founding fathers made it very clear,” he said. “All the opposition to marriage equality was only on a Biblical basis, not on any other religion or any other religious basis.”

Álbért said that protesting, even with the “Traditional Marriage” people, “was very pleasant experience.”  He got thumbs up from supporters, and was grateful for a woman who had come prepared with an extra hand-made scarf to give away.  Despite the cold temperatures, it was ultimately the caring and looking out for each other that kept the LGBT community warm.

Inside the courtroom, the case has been progressing.  Oakland County Clerk Lisa Brown is being sued in her work capacity because her office is restricted from issuing licenses to same-sex couples.  She brought in independent council to argue in support of same-sex marriage, saying that she will marry same-sex couples if there is a favorable ruling in the case, in spite of a memo circulated by the State Attorney General saying that such marriages would not be legal.JudyPalmer01

The State presented a Yale law student as their first expert witness.  27-year-old Sherif Girgis is student of law and philosophy who wrote a book against same-sex marriage. The Plaintiff’s side pointed out his lack of credentials and the fact that he is still being graded by his professors.

“I have no doubt that someday you will make a very good expert witness, but for now you only have your opinion,” Judge Friedman said before dismissing him.

The remainder of the State’s witnesses will testify this week and closing arguments are expected for Friday.  The Judge could rule on Friday, or it could take up to several weeks.

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