Judge Rules: Gay Marriage Ban Struck Down

Judge Rules: Gay Marriage Ban Struck Down

(Crystal A. Proxmire, March 21, 2014)

Judge Bernard Friedman has ruled in favor of the Hazel Park couple who sued the State of Michigan and Oakland County for the right to ctechadmarry and to adopt each others’ children. The Judge did not issue a stay, meaning that there is a possibility that couples can get marriages licenses issued Monday morning when County Clerks offices open if Attorney General Bill Schuette is unable to get a judge to rule on an emergency stay before then.

April DeBoer and Jayne Rowse of Hazel Park held a press conference at Affirmations Community Center in Ferndale on Friday after Judge Friedman issued his ruling.  The couple has three children in total, but current each child only has one legal parent.

Though there may be a window of time during which same sex couples can get married, DeBoer and Rowse are waiting until the know it can be permanent, they said.

The couple spent the day with their attorneys in their Hazel Park home, on pins and needles awaiting the ruling, which was issued just before 5 P.M.   After a brief press conference their plan was “to celebrate,” and to “get lots of hugs” from Jim Shaffer ad EDITEDpeople at Affirmations.  DeBoer thanked supporters, and the attorneys who worked on the case including Dana Nessel, Carole Stanyar and Kenneth Mogill and Robert Seidler.

Judge Friedman, who was appointed to the bench after being nominated by President Ronald Regan in 1988, was firmly in support of the couple in his ruling. Earlier in the process of the case he had suggested that rather than just suing for adoption rights, that the couple amend their claim to include the right to marry.

“No court record of this proceeding could ever fully convey,” the decision reads, “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 community and in their daily lives.’ Windsor, 133 S. Ct. at 2694. dinos02sidelogo3Today’s decision is a step in that direction, and affirms the enduring principle that regardless of whoever finds favor in the eyes of the most recent majority, the guarantee of equal protection must prevail.”

The Judge also dismissed the testimony of University of Texas sociology professor Regnerus, who claimed that LGBT parenting was not up to par with parents of the opposite sex.  “The Court finds Regnerus’s testimony entirely unbelievable and not worthy of serious consideration…Regnerus’s own sociology department at the University of Texas has distanced itself from … Dr. Regnerus’s views.”

Additionally Judge Friedman wrote “”In delivering their opening and closing remarks, plaintiffs’ attorneys contended that the
voters who approved the MMA were motivated by animus towards lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender individuals. BTLWeddingExpo_144x360Since the Court is unable discern the intentions of each individual voter who cast their ballot in favor of the measure, it is cannot ascribe such motivations to the approximately 2.7 million voters who approved the measure. Many Michigan residents have religious convictions whose principles govern the conduct of their daily lives and inform their own viewpoints about marriage. Nonetheless, these views cannot strip other citizens of the guarantees of equal protection under the law. The same Constitution that protects the free exercise of one’s faith in deciding whether to solemnize certain marriages rather than others, is the same Constitution that prevents the state from either mandating adherence to an established religion, U.S. Const. amend I, or “enforcing private moral or religious beliefs without an accompanying secular purpose.” Perry, 704 F. Supp. 2d at 930-931 (citing Lawrence v. Texas,539 U.S. 558, 571 (2003)). As a result, tradition and morality are not rational bases for the MMA.”

Oakland County Clerk Lisa Brown was a defendant in the case because it was her office that was put in a position to deny requests for marriage licenses by same-sex couples.  She secured her own attorney, who argued in favor of overturning Michigan’s ban on same-sex marriage.  “I’m glad to be on the losing side,” she said.pride2014ad

Brown issued a statement to the press. “It’s a relief that my office is no longer forced to discriminate against same-sex couples. During the course of the trial I’ve heard from many residents who want to be first in line to get a marriage license. I couldn’t be happier to say that their wait is finally over. It’s taken too long to get to this point, but we are finally here.”

Brown’s office is expected to open Saturday at 9 am to issue licenses.

Ferndale Mayor Dave Coulter will be available from 10am to 1pm at Affirmations Community Center in Ferndale to perform weddings, but couples must first go to the Oakland County Clerk’s office to obtain a license.

In Washtenaw County, the Clerk got special permission to open at 9am, to waive the waiting period and to reduce the fee from $50 to $.01, according to MLive.

In Muskegon County, Clerk Nancy Waters will be on hand at Harbor Unitarian Universalist Church in Muskegon to sidebar01reader_supportissue licenses to couples who wish to be married by Rev. Bill Freeman.  Ceremony begins at 11am.

“Today’s decision is a huge victory for the people of Michigan. The momentum toward LGBT equality is accelerating as yet another federal court finds that denying same-sex couples the fairness and dignity of marriage is unconstitutional,” said Kary L. Moss, ACLU of Michigan executive director. “Public opinion has changed drastically since 2004 when voters amended the Michigan constitution to exclude same-sex couples from marriage. Today, across the political spectrum, Michiganders recognize that allowing same-sex couples to marry is a matter of fundamental freedoms, economic security, and family values.”

Read the opinion, go to: http://www.aclumich.org/sites/default/files/file/DeBoer.pdf

To learn more and support April and Jayne’s fight for marriage equality, go to: http://www.michiganmarriagechallenge.com/

See the full decision here.

Check back regularly for updates through the evening.

 

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