same sex marriage

US Supreme Court

This Week in Michigan Politics, Emily Fox and Jack Lessenberry discuss a Michigan couple whose case could determine constitutional same-sex marriage rights, a challenge to Michigan’s right-to-work law, and a Republican-proposed plan for changes to the Electoral College.

Get ready for more potholes this upcoming spring season.
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This Week in Review, Jack Lessenberry and Rina Miller discuss a move to fix the state’s roads, the most recent ruling involving same-sex laws, and a new standardized test for Michigan’s public schools.


Photo from the 2011 Capital Pride Parade in Washington, D.C.
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A federal appeals court in Cincinnati has upheld anti-gay marriage laws in four states, including Michigan's.

The court's ruling counters rulings from other courts that have ruled against the bans.

The justices reiterated the question in front of them is not whether gay marriage is a good idea, but whether the 14th amendment prohibits a state from defining marriage.

antiochla.edu / Antioch University

 

The U.S. Supreme Court decided on Monday it will not review lower court rulings on same-sex marriage cases from several states.

Kathy Gray, Detroit Free Press reporter, says that means the U.S. Supreme Court let those lower court rulings stand, which lift the ban on same-sex marriage in the five states – Utah, Oklahoma, Virginia, Wisconsin, and Indiana. 

Michigan's case is still up in the air, because it's being heard – along with cases in Ohio, Tennessee, and Kentucky – in the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals, and a decision could come at any time.

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The U.S. Supreme Court has declined to hear seven same-sex marriage cases. And that leaves the fate of Michigan’s same-sex marriage ban with the U.S. Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals.

A decision from the Sixth Circuit could come at any time. The case was argued in August. Ohio, Kentucky, and Tennessee are also waiting on the ruling. A decision to uphold same-sex marriage bans in those states and Michigan would create a conflict between different circuits that could land the case before the Supreme Court.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Update: The U.S. Supreme Court declined to take up the issue of gay marriage this session. Read more about this decision's implications here.

Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette is optimistic the U.S. Supreme Court will agree to take up the question of gay marriage this year.

User: Kelly Kline / Flickr

Michigan joined three other states yesterday in the Sixth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals in Cincinnati. All four states argued to keep their bans against same-sex marriage intact.

Rick Pluta with the Michigan Public Radio Network was in Cincinnati to hear the arguments. He joined us on the show today.

“The case in Cincinnati focused on the fact that this same-sex marriage ban was approved by voters, and that courts really ought not to step in and just change what voters have decided. So the arguments were: should the judiciary step in and say that states cannot ban same-sex marriage, and if now is the right time to do it.”

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There’s a hearing Wednesday in Cincinnati on Michigan’s same-sex marriage ban. The case is before the US Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals.

A panel of judges will also hear arguments on same-sex marriage bans in Ohio, Kentucky, and Tennessee.

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This Week in Michigan Politics, Jack Lessenberry and Christina Shockley discuss the latest in the same-sex marriage debate, roads funding, whether Democrats can overturn the abortion insurance law, and a new controversy with the Education Achievement Authority.

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A new poll done by EPIC-MRA for the Detroit Free Press and WXYZ-TV indicates that same-sex marriage has lost support in Michigan. 

In 2013, the poll indicated that 51% supported same-sex marriage, and 41% said they opposed.

If it were put to a vote now, however, the poll found that only 47% would vote yes and 46% would vote no. The other 7% were either undecided, or refused to say. (The poll had a margin of error of +/- 4%.)

You can see the results from EPIC-MRA here (see question 26).

Samantha Wolf and Martha Rutledge are among the plaintiffs in the ACLU's case. They said, "we were so excited when we got married, but it felt like such a blow to have that taken away so soon."
ACLU

The ACLU of Michigan has filed a lawsuit that seeks to force Michigan to recognize the marriages of around 300 same-sex couples.

The couples married on Saturday, March 22 after a federal judge struck down Michigan’s ban on same-sex marriage the day before. Several county clerks had opened their offices to allow the marriages to go forward. A federal appeals court later issued a stay on the ruling, which put a hold on any more marriages from taking place.

And Gov. Snyder later announced that the state would not recognize the marriages that took place on that Saturday.

From the ACLU’s press release:

The lawsuit was filed on behalf of eight same-sex couples who were married after a federal judge struck down the state’s ban and before the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals put the decision on hold.

"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," said Kary L. Moss, ACLU of Michigan executive director.

The ACLU has more on the families who have joined the lawsuit. You can read more here.

Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

A group of Metro Detroit clergy leaders stood together Thursday to send a clear message: They support same-sex marriage and equal rights for LGBT people.

They also strongly condemned some of their fellow Michigan Christian leaders who are fighting to uphold the state’s ban on same-sex marriage.

Last week, a group of about 200, mostly Michigan-based black pastors declared that “the fight is on” to protect “traditional” marriage.

Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

A coalition of about 200 mostly Michigan-based black pastors says “the fight is on” when it comes to same-sex marriage.

A federal judge overturned the state’s ban on same-sex marriage earlier this year. Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette has appealed that ruling, and it’s now headed to the US 6th Circuit court of appeals.

The pastors condemned the ruling in an event at First Baptist International World Changers church in Detroit Wednesday.

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Backers of same-sex marriage are launching what an education campaign that could eventually evolve into a ballot effort to reverse Michigan’s constitutional ban on gay marriage.

Emily Dievendorf is part of the “Michigan for Marriage” campaign. She says Michiganders need to understand why gays and lesbians want the same ability to marry as heterosexuals. 

A former Republican state representative says he was on the "wrong side of history" when he opposed same-sex marriage during his time in Lansing 10 years ago. On today's show, Chris Ward, former representative from Genoa County talked about the gay marriage ban and the future of the Republican Party.

Then, we spoke with a very talented Flint rapper about his music and raising the profile of the Flint community.

We heard from writer Deidre Stevens about the Ca-Choo Club, a very unique way to attract allergy sufferers to Sault Ste. Marie.

Also, as Michigan's Aug. 5 primary and November election draw closer, there are some very tight races shaping up. Who are the voters who could most influence the outcome of these races, depending upon whether they stay home or go to the polls?

First on the show, yesterday was the deadline to file objections to the disclosure statement spelling out Detroit's plan to climb out of its bankruptcy hole.

And yes, objections poured in – long lists of objections to the disclosure statement.

Detroit News reporter Chad Livengood joined us today to tell us who's objecting, why, and what comes next.

Chris Ward in a photo for a 2008 cover story in Dome Magazine.
Dave Trumpie - trumpiephotography.com / Dome Magazine

It is never too late to offer a public "mea culpa" for taking a political action that you later believe was a serious mistake.

That's the idea behind a recent entry on the blog Republicus.

Former Republican State Rep. Chris Ward wrote the post declaring that he'd been on the "wrong side of history" when he opposed same-sex marriage during his time in Lansing.

Michigan Attorney General

  State Attorney General Bill Schuette has asked a federal appeals court to put the legal challenge to Michigan’s ban on same-sex marriage on a fast track. Schuette is defending Michigan’s ban.

Schuette’s filed a motion with the US Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals to skip a hearing before a three judge panel and go directly to the entire 15-judge court. That could shave months, maybe as much as a year, off the appeals process. Schuette says the question needs to settled regardless of who wins in the end. 

U.S. Dept. of Education

The federal government will recognize the marriages of 300 gay and lesbian couples performed last weekend in Michigan before more weddings were blocked by an appeals court. That means they will be able file joint federal tax returns and share federal government benefits.

“I have determined that the same-sex marriages performed last Saturday in Michigan will be recognized by the federal government,” Holder said in a written statement.  “These families will be eligible for all relevant federal benefits on the same terms as other same-sex marriages.”

This week, host Jennifer White discusses the latest developments in same-sex marriages in Michigan and their impact on the 2014 elections. She is joined by Ken Sikkema, former Senate Majority Leader and senior policy fellow at Public Sector Consultants, and Susan Demas, publisher of Michigan Inside Politics.

On Friday, U.S. District Judge Bernard Friedman struck down Michigan’s ban on same-sex marriage. On Saturday, more than 300 couples rushed to speak their vows before the Sixth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals issued a stay on Judge Friedman’s ruling until further deliberation. Yesterday, Gov. Rick Snyder stated that while the marriages performed over the weekend were legal, they cannot be officially recognized by the state due to the current law.

Ken Sikkema indicates that while it may be politically challenging for Gov. Snyder, his position will be to comply with the law.

“I think at the end of the day, his position is going to be, as it is today, ‘I’m going to comply with the law,' whatever the law is, finally resolved by the U.S. Supreme Court."

Meanwhile, Susan Demas mentions that although Attorney General Bill Schuette has been vocal about his opposition to same-sex marriage, he did not address the issue in his campaign reelection announcement last week.

Michigan Radio

The U.S. Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals has extended the freeze on same-sex marriages in Michigan. The court granted the state’s request to put a hold on last week’s decision that struck down Michigan’s same-sex marriage ban as unconstitutional.      

The panel’s 2-1 ruling continues the legal limbo of more than 300 gay and lesbian couples who were married during the weekend window before the door was closed.

Four county clerks opened their doors over the weekend to issue marriage licenses before they were stopped by the Sixth Circuit.      

Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette kicked off his reelection campaign today in his hometown of Midland.

In his speech, Schuette touted his record in office, including efforts to combat human trafficking and protect pensions.

“A record that’s strong and clear. It’s a record of being a voice for victims. A voice for the constitution and a voice for Michigan,” says Schuette. “It’s a long election and I’m going to win. I’m going to take my case to the citizens across the state of Michigan.”

Schuette didn’t directly address the controversy over same-sex marriage.

Unless you were trapped underground last weekend, you probably have been following Michigan’s same-sex marriage drama.

On Friday, U.S. District Judge Bernard Friedman issued an opinion striking down Michigan’s state constitutional amendment prohibiting same-sex marriages.

Less than 24 hours later, a federal appeals court put his ruling on hold.

In the meantime, several hundred couples rushed to get licenses and marry. Every legal scholar I know believes the legality of same-sex unions will eventually be decided by the U.S. Supreme Court.

Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

Update 5:05 p.m.

In a reversal from what it signaled earlier in the day, the U.S. Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals has issued a temporary stay on the decision to strike down Michigan's ban on same-sex marriage. 

The court said it issued the stay to allow a "more reasoned consideration" of Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette's request for a hold on Friday's decision.

3:43 p.m.

antiochla.edu / Antioch University

There can be little doubt that we are living at a time when our attitudes as a society are undergoing a tremendous shift in what we think of individuals who are lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender.

Recently, we spoke on this show with Michigan State University professor Charley Ballard, who directs the state of the state surveys. The most recent MSU survey found, for instance, that 54% of Michiganders support gay marriage, with 36% opposing it.

Just four years ago, gay marriage was opposed by 51% and favored by 48% of those surveyed.

That is the view from social science. But what about the view from the pulpit?

Ken Wilson is pastor of Vineyard Church of Ann Arbor. The evangelical minister has spent years wrestling with this question:  Where do we – as a Christian faith community – draw the line on the gay marriage issue?

His journey to rethinking his beliefs about where LBGT people fit into what he calls “the company of Jesus” is spelled out in his new book “A Letter to my Congregation:  An evangelical pastor's path to embracing people who are gay, lesbian and transgender into the company of Jesus.”

Listen to the full interview above. 

DeBoer Rowse Adoption Legal Fund

A challenge to Michigan's ban on same-sex marriage is coming to an end in federal court. Arguments have ended and we are waiting for a ruling from U.S. District Judge Bernard Friedman within the next two weeks. 

The case involves a lesbian couple from Oakland County and their adopted children. The women want legal joint custody of each other's children for purposes of inheritance, benefits and guardianship, should one of them die.

But state law does not allow gay marriage. Michigan passed a constitutional amendment in 2004 banning same-sex marriage. 

Oakland County Clerk Lisa Brown wants to issue marriage licenses to gay couples, and she joined us today.

Listen to the full interview above. 

Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

The fate of Michigan's constitutional ban on gay marriage now rests with federal Judge Bernard Friedman.

After nine days of argument, the trial of Deboer v. Snyder ended this morning.

The highly anticipated federal trial began last Tuesday, Feb. 25, and now Judge Friedman says he will weigh all the evidence before making his decision.

He’s expected to take a couple of weeks to review the case.

(courtesy Michigan Attorney General's office)

The Michigan attorney general’s office is very busy these days. The state’s position on juvenile life sentences is being questioned before the Michigan Supreme Court; the state’s constitutional amendment banning same sex-marriage and civil unions is being challenged in federal court; and at the same time, the rights of pensioners are being sorted out as Detroit continues to go through bankruptcy.

Attorney General Bill Schuette has been front, center, and vocal in all of these cases.

NOAA

This Week in Michigan Politics, Jack Lessenberry and Christina Shockely discuss the trial challenging Michigan's same-sex marriage ban, the mayor of Flint's proposal to fight blight in the city, and what President Obama's budget proposal could mean for Michigan.

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

This Week in Review Rina Miller and Jack Lessenberry discuss John Dingell leaving congress and his wife being a front runner for the seat, the debate over same-sex marriage in Michigan, and a proposal to make sure Michiganders are taxes for internet sales.

We are one week, halfway through, the trial in federal court in Detroit centering on the challenge to Michigan’s constitutional ban on same-sex marriage. The arguments are supposed to go on for another week, and then we’ll wait for the judge’s decision. But the case’s mere existence, the fact that it’s occurring, is having an effect on the political landscape in Michigan.

And, it should be noted that these hearings are not taking place within a vacuum. Just this week we saw two more gay marriage rulings. Texas’ ban on same-sex marriage was struck down and Kentucky was ordered to recognize same-sex marriages performed in other states.

There is also another federal case underway here in Michigan that is challenging the state’s refusal to allow live-in partner benefits for public employees. It’s the mechanism that was created to allow same-sex couples to use their benefits to cover partners and children who would otherwise be denied coverage under Michigan’s marriage amendment, approved by voters in a statewide election 10 years ago.

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