Follow breaking news @lgbtqnation
BREAKING NEWS

Federal judge not ready to rule on Mich. gay marriage ban; sets February trial date

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Updated, 4:30 p.m. EDT

DETROIT — A federal judge stunned the courtroom Wednesday by saying he’ll hold a trial before deciding whether to overturn Michigan’s ban on same-sex marriage.

U.S. District Judge Bernard Friedman said he won’t make a decision without hearing testimony from experts on whether there’s a legitimate state interest in banning gay marriage. He scheduled a trial for Feb. 25.

David Coates, APGay rights supporters rally in front of the federal courthouse in Detroit Tuesday, Oct. 16, 2013.

David Coates, AP
Gay rights supporters rally in front of the federal courthouse in Detroit Tuesday, Oct. 16, 2013.

U.S. District Judge Bernard Friedman

U.S. District Judge Bernard Friedman

“I wish I could give you a definitive ruling. … There are fact issues that have to be decided,” Friedman said.

Friedman clearly caught the lawyers off guard. They had agreed to have him decide the issue on arguments and briefs. There was a groan in a nearby room where dozens of people were watching a video feed.

Two Detroit-area nurses in a lesbian relationship, Jayne Rowse, 49, and April DeBoer, 42, wanted to adopt each other’s children, not rewrite Michigan law. But their lawsuit took an extraordinary turn a year ago when Friedman suggested they refile it to cha llenge the gay marriage ban.

In doing so, they argued the state’s constitutional amendment violates the U.S. Constitution’s Equal Protection Clause.

A state constitutional amendment declaring marriage as between a man and a woman was approved by 59 percent of Michigan voters in 2004. Thirteen states and the District of Columbia allow gay marriage.

More than 100 people were in the courtroom Wednesday. Several dozen people in favor of gay marriage also rallied outside of the courthouse.

“This amendment enshrines discrimination in the state constitution for all time,” the couple’s attorney, Carole Stanyar, told the judge.

Moments earlier, 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.”

Rowse and DeBoer, who have lived together for about eight years, sat just a few steps away at the plaintiffs’ table.

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,” said Heyse, an assistant attorney general.

Share this article with your friends and followers:

Archives: , , , , ,

Filed under: Michigan

37 more reader comments:

  1. That sucks. 4 more months of inequality.

    Posted on Wednesday, October 16, 2013 at 7:36pm
  2. we should give him time… it is a matter of law after all… but I do hope that a petition to reverse the 2004 constitutional ban is rolling even though 2014 is not a viable choice…

    Posted on Wednesday, October 16, 2013 at 7:36pm
  3. Yeah it does sucks big time!

    Posted on Wednesday, October 16, 2013 at 7:37pm
  4. How could he say it’s a matter that needs to be expedited and then delay four months to decide? He reminds me of a story from the old country about an old couple that were always bickering. They went to their priest to have him decide who was right in a long-standing argument. He told them to come back in one year. His assistant asked how that would settles things. The priest replied, “Between now and then one of them may die.”

    Posted on Wednesday, October 16, 2013 at 7:38pm
  5. i say: check his bank accounts.

    Replied on Wednesday, October 16, 2013 at 11:28pm
  6. No balls

    Posted on Wednesday, October 16, 2013 at 7:41pm
  7. :(

    Posted on Wednesday, October 16, 2013 at 7:41pm
  8. It’s unconstitutional. There’s your answer, Judgy Boy.

    Posted on Wednesday, October 16, 2013 at 7:41pm
  9. COWARD!

    Posted on Wednesday, October 16, 2013 at 7:43pm
  10. Booo shame on him

    Posted on Wednesday, October 16, 2013 at 7:47pm
  11. What’s to think about- DOMA IS DEAD !!

    Posted on Wednesday, October 16, 2013 at 7:48pm
  12. only section 3 is.....the REST of DOMA needs to be REPEALED.

    Replied on Wednesday, October 16, 2013 at 11:26pm
  13. Sad day in my home state…. very disappointing!

    Posted on Wednesday, October 16, 2013 at 7:49pm
  14. A complete waste of tax money! Don’t hold a trial, just allow gay marriage. Idiot!

    Posted on Wednesday, October 16, 2013 at 7:51pm
  15. Someday when my daughters are grown, I hope they are just like me. Maybe straight, maybe not, but certainly not a hater!!

    Posted on Wednesday, October 16, 2013 at 7:51pm
  16. So, basically he is punting. Sigh.

    Posted on Wednesday, October 16, 2013 at 7:54pm
  17. If you are in that big of a rush go somewhere else. Quit acting like gay marriage is the most important thing on his list. Nothing is stopping anyone from getting married but yourself.

    Posted on Wednesday, October 16, 2013 at 7:56pm
  18. Part of DOMA is dead, not the whole thing.

    Posted on Wednesday, October 16, 2013 at 7:57pm
  19. get with the program judge!

    Posted on Wednesday, October 16, 2013 at 7:59pm
  20. Coward.

    Posted on Wednesday, October 16, 2013 at 8:01pm
  21. Its not a matter of going somewhere else, cuz when they return, MI still wouldn’t recognize it like it should be.

    Posted on Wednesday, October 16, 2013 at 8:02pm
  22. no continuances.

    Posted on Wednesday, October 16, 2013 at 8:07pm
  23. He is waiting on $$$$$$

    Posted on Wednesday, October 16, 2013 at 8:09pm
  24. Then it will be easier to get them to recognize it, look at Ohio.

    Posted on Wednesday, October 16, 2013 at 8:11pm
  25. Stop jacking off and get the show on the road ur honor.lol these r peoples lives,equality 4 all.

    Posted on Wednesday, October 16, 2013 at 8:35pm
  26. It is just do it

    Posted on Wednesday, October 16, 2013 at 8:48pm
  27. Shame!

    Posted on Wednesday, October 16, 2013 at 8:51pm
  28. What a vagina…

    Posted on Wednesday, October 16, 2013 at 8:57pm
  29. Hey better that he’s considering it rather than completely dismissing it.

    Posted on Wednesday, October 16, 2013 at 9:22pm
  30. Michigan politics are a joke.
    Most likely the tea party will just vote in a new marriage ban when this one is repealed. Michigan citizens overwhelmingly voted down all the props in the last election. Our elected officials signed “variations” of those ballot initiatives into law anyway less than one month after we voted them down.

    Posted on Wednesday, October 16, 2013 at 9:47pm
  31. problem is the state is GOP controlled.

    Replied on Wednesday, October 16, 2013 at 11:27pm
  32. $ame Old $ong & Dance !!!

    Posted on Wednesday, October 16, 2013 at 10:12pm
  33. this UPSETS ME…..i was really HOPING for a better announcement from my state. :P

    Posted on Wednesday, October 16, 2013 at 11:24pm
  34. this UPSETS ME…..i was really HOPING for a better announcement from my state. :P

    Posted on Wednesday, October 16, 2013 at 11:24pm
  35. He’s obviously stalling.

    Posted on Thursday, October 17, 2013 at 2:24am
  36. Just 14th Amendment that thing

    Posted on Thursday, October 17, 2013 at 4:10am
  37. FAIL! What a loser (judge)!

    Posted on Thursday, October 17, 2013 at 5:10am