Michigan

Michigan

DeBoer v. Snyder

What's Happening:

On November 17, attorneys Carole M. Stanyar, Dana M. Nessel, Robert A. Sedler, Mary L. Bonauto and counsel from Mogill, Posner and Cohen filed a petition for a writ of certiorari to the United States Supreme Court in this federal case.

The petition seeks review of a November 6 ruling from the United States Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit, which reversed a lower court ruling in this federal case seeking the freedom to marry in Michigan. The out-of-step decision ignored nearly 50 pro-marriage rulings since June 2013 - it's time for the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn this decision and rule in favor of the freedom to marry nationwide.

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.

On August 6, the United States Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit will hear oral arguments in the appeal of this case, in which U.S. District Court Judge Bernard Friedman, a Reagan appointee, ruled that laws in Michigan prohibiting same-sex couples from marrying are unconstitutional in March 2014. 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.

Caspar v. Snyder

What's Happening:

In November 2014, a judge asked for additional arguments in this state court case seeking respect for more than 300 marriage licenses issued by the state of Michigan in March 2014, following a federal ruling in favor of the freedom to marry in DeBoer v. Snyder. On November 14, Michigan Governor Snyder filed a brief requesting that the marriage licenses be voided, in accordance with the out-of-step ruling from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit. Plaintiffs now have until November 21 to reply to the state's brief and make their case that these marriages should be treated as any other marriage performed in the state of Michigan.

Case Background:

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.

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.

Morgan v. Snyder

What's Happening:

On June 11, 2014, private lawyers filed a federal lawsuit in Grand Rapids, Michigan seeking respect for their marriage, legally performed in a different state. The suit is being filed by the Grand Rapids law firm Rhoades McKee.

A ruling in DeBoer v. Snyder found that same-sex couples must have the freedom to marry in Michigan, but the decision did not address respecting the out-of-state marriages of same-sex couples.

Case Background:

The plaintiff couple in the case is Bruce T. Morgan and Brian P. Merucci, who legally married in New York in December 2013. The men live in Kent County, MI and have been together for more than seven years.

In a statement, Bruce explained, "If I am in the hospital, I want to know that Brian can be there at my bedside, as my spouse, and that the hospital will recognize the decisions he makes regarding my care. I want to file joint taxes, to have spousal visitation rights, and to own property with Brian as spouses. I know that Brian will be by my side during this difficult time, and I want him to be recognized as my spouse when he does because that is who he is. We simply want equal treatment under the law."

Blankenship v. Snyder

What's Happening:

On June 5, 2014, private lawyers filed a federal lawsuit in Genessee County, Michigan seeking respect for their marriage, legally performed in a different state. The suit is being filed by attorney Jessica Hammon.

A ruling in DeBoer v. Snyder found that same-sex couples must have the freedom to marry in Michigan, but the decision did not address respecting the out-of-state marriages of same-sex couples.

Case Background:

The plaintiff couple in the case is Erin and Shayla Blankenship, who legally married in New York in summer 2013.

Hammon told press, "Unfortunately, because of the ways the laws of Michigan work, the only way they could adopt the others' child, even though they're married, in the state of New York, because Michigan doesn't recognize their marriage, they only way they can adopt the other child is if they perform a step-parent adoption. They don't have the proper rights to each one of their children that other couples are afforded. It's about all Michigan families being recognized and all Michigan families being able to conduct their lives in the same way."

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