Judge strikes down Michigan's ban on gay marriage

Mar 21, 2014

Jayne Rowse and April DeBoer pictured with their adopted children
Jayne Rowse and April DeBoer pictured with their adopted children
Credit michiganmarriagechallenge.com
  A judge has struck down Michigan's ban on gay marriage, the latest in a series of decisions overturning similar laws across the country.

Federal Judge Bernard Friedman ruled Friday, two weeks after a trial. Two Detroit-area nurses who've been partners for eight years claimed the ban violated their rights under the U.S. Constitution.

It was not clear if gay marriages could begin immediately.

Scholars testifying for Jayne Rowse and April DeBoer said there were no differences between children raised by same-sex couples and those raised by a man and a woman.

Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette is asking a federal appeals court to immediately freeze a judge's decision striking down the state's ban on gay marriage while he appeals.

Schuette's emergency request for the emergency stay and appeal were filed Friday with an appeals court in Cincinnati following federal Judge Bernard Friedman's ruling, which came two weeks after a trial. Two Detroit-area nurses who have been partners for eight years claimed the ban violated their rights under the U.S. Constitution.

Nearly 60 percent of state voters in 2004 approved a constitutional amendment that recognizes marriage only as between a man and a woman.

Schuette said the will of Michigan voters "should stand and be respected."

The Human Rights Campaign issued this comment following the ruling:

Momentum for Marriage Equality Continues with Michigan Ruling 

 

Washington – Michigan today became the latest state to have its ban on marriage equality ruled unconstitutional by a federal judge, and in the process also dealt a blow to the credibility of the anti-gay parenting junk science peddled by UT Austin sociologist Mark Regnerus.

“The momentum for marriage equality is undeniable as yet another federal judge affirmed today that all loving and committed same-sex couples deserve to be treated equally under the law,” said Human Rights Campaign President Chad Griffin. “Today’s ruling in Michigan now joins similar rulings in Virginia, Kentucky, Texas, Ohio, Oklahoma and Utah. It’s clear that the law is on the side of LGBT Americans, and we are moving with increasing momentum toward the day when all loving and committed same-sex couples receive the dignity and respect they deserve.”

The Michigan ruling is particularly significant because Mark Regnerus, who authored a biased and flawed anti-gay parenting study that was conceived and funded by anti-gay groups, testified during the trial as a witness for the state. Regnerus again stated that he believed marriage was between one man and one woman. He also admitted that the report’s chief funder, the anti-gay Witherspoon Institute, wanted the study completed before the U.S. Supreme Court took up marriage equality. Hundreds of Regnerus’ fellow sociologists, the American Sociological Association, and even his own department at UT Austin have all spoken out against his anti-gay study.

In today’s ruling, Friedman - who was appointed to the bench by President Ronald Reagan - wrote: “The Court finds Regnerus’s testimony entirely unbelievable and not worthy of serious consideration.”

Currently 29 states have constitutional amendments restricting marriage to one man and one woman.  Same-sex couples can legally marry in 17 states and Washington, DC

The Human Rights Campaign is America’s largest civil rights organization working to achieve lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender equality. By inspiring and engaging all Americans, HRC strives to end discrimination against LGBT citizens and realize a nation that achieves fundamental fairness and equality for all. 

State Representative Jeff Irwin had this to say about the ruling:

Rep. Irwin lauds marriage equality ruling

LANSING - State Representative Jeff Irwin (D- Ann Arbor) applauded the federal district court ruling today striking down Michigan’s ban on same-sex marriage. “I am delighted that Judge Friedman recognized that same-sex couples should have access to the legal rights and responsibilities of marriage. Although this case started as a challenge to Michigan’s discriminatory adoption law; it has always been about ensuring that all families are treated equally under the law,” he said.

“This victory is another advance for equal protection. Although there is much more we must do to end discrimination, I'm proud that Michigan is joining the growing consensus that everyone deserves equal rights."