The Freedom to Marry in Michigan
Winning Marriage: June 26, 2015
The United States Supreme Court ruled in favor of the freedom to marry nationwide on June 26, 2015, allowing all same-sex couples in Michigan the ability to marry once and for all. The decision followed more than three years of marriage litigation in the state and was issued in a case that originated in Michigan.
History and the Path to Victory:
- June 1995: The Michigan legislature passes two state statutes restricting marriage to different-sex couples. Governor John Engler signs both bills into law.
- November 2004: Opponents of the freedom to marry in Michigan push through Michigan Proposal 04-2, a constitutional amendment denying same-sex couples the freedom to marry and any other legal family status. The amendment cements clearly discriminatory language into the Michigan Constitution.
- 2004-2012: As Americans nationwide engage in conversations about why marriage matters, national and local advocates in Michigan take strides toward increasing understanding of same-sex couples and their families.
- August 13, 2012: Polling in Michigan tracks majority support for the freedom to marry, reflecting the power of the national discussion of why marriage matters.
- January 23, 2012: Same-sex couples and private lawyers, joined later by the ACLU and Gay & Lesbian Advocates and Defenders, file a federal legal case seeking the freedom to adopt three children, DeBoer v. Snyder. The lawsuit expands to include a challenge to the anti-marriage laws in the state. Read the initial complaint – and meet the plaintiffs.
- February 12, 2014: Following a weeks-long trial, U.S. District Judge Bernard A. Friedman rules that Michigan’s ban on same-sex marriages is unconstitutional. Judge Friedman does not stay his ruling, allowing over 300 same-sex couples to receive marriage licenses. The ruling is appealed to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit, which stays the District Court’s ruling. Read the ruling.
- May 8, 2014: Michigan for Marriage, the coalition to win the freedom to marry and provide public education on marriage in Michigan, is launched.
- November 6, 2014: The 6th Circuit Court of Appeals rules against the freedom to marry in the Kentucky case and three others, becoming the first appellate court in years to do so and setting up a final legal showdown at the United States Supreme Court. Read the ruling.
- January 16, 2015: The United States Supreme Court grants review of the 6th Circuit’s out-of-step 6th Circuit ruling upholding marriage discrimination.
- June 26, 2015: The United States Supreme Court rules in favor of marriage for same-sex couples in a case that includes the DeBoer case, bringing the freedom to marry to Michigan – and the entire country – once and for all. Read the ruling here.
Groups that Actively Worked on Marriage:
- Michigan for Marriage was the grassroots public education campaign to build support for the freedom to marry in Michigan.
- Equality Michigan works to achieve full equality and respect for all people in the state of Michigan regardless of sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression.
- The ACLU of Michigan is a nonprofit, nonpartisan, membership organization dedicated to defending and expanding individual rights and personal freedoms throughout the entire state of Michigan.
- The American Civil Liberties Union is a nonprofit, nonpartisan, membership organization dedicated to defending and expanding individual rights and personal freedoms throughout the country.
- Freedom to Marry was the campaign to win marriage for same-sex couples nationwide.