Michigan

Michigan

DeBoer v. Snyder

What's Happening:

On March 21, 2014, U.S. District Court Judge Bernard Friedman, a Reagan appointee, ruled that laws in Michigan prohibiting same-sex couples from marrying are unconstitutional. The ruling was in this federal lawsuit from a same-sex couple seeking to marry in Michigan and jointly adopt their children.

No stay was issued in the case, and on Saturday, March 22, several county clerks' offices in Michigan opened and issued marriage licenses to same-sex couples. More than 300 couples married before the end of the afternoon, when the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals granted the state's request for a stay on the ruling.

Gov. Snyder and the Michigan Attorney General have appealed the ruling to the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals.

Case Background:

On January 23, 2012, private lawyers - joined later by the ACLU and Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders - filed a federal lawsuit in the 6th Circuit on behalf of April DeBoer and Jayne Rowse, who were seeking the freedom to jointly adopt their three children who they raised as foster moms. Michigan law currently prevents same-sex couples from jointly adopting children.

On August 29, 2012, the judge assigned to the case, U.S. District Court Judge Bernard Friedman, explained that the constitutional amendment prohibiting the couple from adopting their children is the same amendment that prohibits the couple - and all same-sex couples in Michigan - from marrying. The lawsuit was then expanded to challenge the anti-marriage law in the state, and on July 1, 2013, Judge Friedman denied the defendants' motion to dismiss the lawsuit's challenge of the state constitutional amendment restricting marriage to different-sex couples. Opening briefs were filed in the case in July.

Oral arguments were heard on October 16, 2013, and Judge Friedman announced that he will issue a written opinion and that the case would proceed to trial.

Beginning on February 25, a two-week trial - only the third-ever trial on the freedom to marry - was held, and a ruling came down about two weeks after final arguments.

Caspar v. Snyder

What's Happening:

On April 14, 2014, the American Civil Liberties Union of Michigan filed a lawsuit in state court on behalf of eight same-sex couples who received marriage licenses on the first day of the freedom to marry in Michigan. More than 300 couples received marriage licenses on March 22, after a federal judge struck down the state's ban on marriage for same-sex couples. The ruling was stayed later that afternoon, and although the federal government said that it would respect the Michigan marriage licenses for all purposes, Governor Rick Snyder said that the state would, for now, deny respect to the licenses as the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals considers arguments in the original federal lawsuit.

Case Background:

The lawsuit argues that because these same-sex couples legally married in Michigan, they are entitled to all of the protections of marriage, and that these protections cannot be taken away retroactively. The ACLU explained that the suit also explains that the United States Constitution requires state officials to recognize those protections immediately, regardless of the ultimate outcome of the appeal of Judge Friedman’s ruling.

ACLU of Michigan Executive Director Kary L. Moss explained: "As a matter of law and fundamental fairness, the state is obligated to extend the protections that flow from marriage to all those who celebrated their weddings last month. Doing anything less treats legally married gay and lesbian couples like second-class citizens, and adds to the confusion and instability these loving families have endured."

The plaintiff couples include eight families, including several couples who have been together in Michigan for more than 25 years. Meet the Plaintiffs HERE.

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