gay marriage

Today on Stateside:

  • The legal team for April DeBoer and Jayne Rowse filed their appeal today with the US Supreme Court.  They want the court to rule that Michigan’s ban on same-sex marriage is unconstitutional. Rick Pluta, Lansing Bureau Chief for the Michigan Public Radio Network is here. 

  • Michigan Radio's newest project is The Next Big Idea. Here with us today are Joe Linstroth and Jeff DeGraff, who discuss what innovation means to them and what they're looking for.

user Tyrone Warner / Flickr

This Week in Review, Jack Lessenberry and Rina Miller discuss Michigan’s anti-gay marriage law being upheld, the Detroit bankruptcy trial ruling, and what to expect during this term’s lame-duck session.


Today let’s fire up the old time machine and go back to downtown Grand Rapids, say, on this day in 1964.

That would have been a Saturday, so we probably will be able to catch a lot of people at home. We’ll pretend to be taking a poll, and we’ll ask:

“Excuse me, but we’d like your opinion on this question. Fifty years from now, do you think it will be more likely that A) the United States will have a colony on the moon, or B) that homosexual marriage would be legal in many states of the union?”

Asian Carp
Kate.Gardner / Flickr

This Week in Michigan Politics, Emily Fox and Jack Lessenberry discuss GOP groups pulling their ads supporting Terri Lynn Land, Asian carp DNA found in the Kalamazoo River, and the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision not to hear cases from lower courts banning gay marriage.


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 dbking / Flickr

DETROIT (AP) - A lawyer has urged a judge to order Michigan to recognize same-sex marriages performed in March, saying the unions are valid even if a higher court reinstates the state's gay marriage ban.

More than 300 couples were married before an appeals court suspended a decision that had overturned the ban. The American Civil Liberties Union insists those marriages are legitimate. But Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder, unlike the federal government, won't recognize them while the legality of gay marriage remains contested in court.

ACLU attorney Julian Mortenson says a marriage performed when gay marriage was legal can't be broken by the state. He urged federal Judge Mark Goldsmith to issue an injunction Thursday.

Michigan wants Goldsmith to wait. A Cincinnati-based appeals court recently heard arguments in cases from four states.

When Rick Johnson became Speaker of the Michigan House of Representatives, I was a little dubious.

He was a dairy farmer who had only gone as far as high school, and I worried what this might mean for 

higher education.

But as it turned out, while he was Republican to the core, he was generally a reasonable, open-minded man. Not, however, on the issue of same-sex marriage, which he opposed.

That was 10 years ago, and he wasn’t alone. A large majority of Michiganders who went to the polls that year voted to amend the state constitution to outlaw same sex marriage forever.

But forever didn’t last. Across America this year, judge after judge has overturned state prohibitions against same-sex marriage.

Governor Rick Snyder's statement after a federal court overturns Michigan's ban on same sex marriage in March 2014.

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.

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. 

user Tyrone Warner / Flickr

DETROIT – A federal appeals court won't give special treatment to Michigan's dispute over gay marriage.

The court says the state's appeal of a decision overturning a ban on same-sex marriage will follow the usual course. The case will be heard by a three-judge panel, probably later this year.

Attorney General Bill Schuette wanted the full court to leapfrog the panel and take the appeal. But there's no interest from judges at the Cincinnati-based court.

A brief order unanimously rejecting Schuette's request was filed Monday.

More than 300 same-sex couples were married in March after a Detroit federal judge said Michigan's ban on gay marriage is unconstitutional. The appeals court has suspended the decision while the appeal is pending.

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.”

Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

Michigan's congressional Democrats are asking U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder for federal recognition of the more than 300 same-sex marriages performed in the state this past weekend. The letter is signed by Sens. Debbie Stabenow and Carl Levin, and Reps. John Dingell, Sander Levin, Gary Peters and Dan Kildee.

A judge ruled last Friday that Michigan’s same-sex marriage ban is unconstitutional, but the U.S. Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals put a hold on further same-sex weddings while it deliberates the Michigan marriage case.

Yesterday, Gov. Snyder said the marriages performed over the weekend in Michigan are legal, but they cannot be officially recognized by the state because of current law. Here's what he said:

In January, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder said the government would honor same-sex marriages in Utah in a case very similar to Michigan's. The Justice Department so far has said it's monitoring the situation in Michigan.

Rick Pluta

That's the status of same-sex couples in Michigan who had hoped to marry after last Friday's ruling from federal judge Bernard Friedman, a ruling that struck down Michigan's constitutional ban on same-sex marriage.

More than 300 couples rushed to speak their vows on Saturday before the Sixth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals issued a stay of Judge Friedman's ruling until appeals proceedings conclude.

And now we have heard from Gov. Rick Snyder about those couples. He said the state will not recognize those marriages.

MLive writer Jonathon Oosting joined us today.

Gov. Rick Snyder says Michigan won't recognize more than 300 same-sex marriages performed last weekend.

The marriages were performed Saturday before a federal appeals court suspended a decision that overturned the state's ban on gay marriage. Snyder's announcement Wednesday closes the door to certain benefits granted to Michigan married couples. The move comes a day after an appeals court indefinitely stopped any additional same-sex marriages.

Snyder says the marriages were legal at the time but the stay means the ban now is back in effect.

There are a lot of bewildered and dejected people in Michigan today.

Most of all, perhaps, the 300 or so same-sex couples who got married last Saturday, after a federal judge overturned Michigan’s amendment outlawing such marriages. U.S. District Judge Bernard Friedman ruled, as expected, that our state’s constitutional prohibition of such marriages was wrong.

But unlike federal judges in other states where this happened, he did not put his ruling on hold till the appellate courts could rule, so there was a mad scramble for licenses and ceremonies in those counties where the clerks were sympathetic.

Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

On Friday, March 21, U.S. District Court Judge Bernard Friedman struck down Michigan's ban on same-sex marriage.

The next day, clerks in Ingham, Washtenaw, Oakland and Muskegon counties opened their doors to issue marriage licenses. More than 300 people were pronounced man and husband, or woman and wife, before 5 p.m. Then a stay was issued by the U.S. Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals, which forced clerks to cease marrying gay couples.

Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

For many newly married couples, it’s not unusual to apply to the state and federal government to get their new last names.

But for Art Bristol and Corey Ledin, whose newly minted marriage license declares their last names as Ledin-Brisol, the process was far from usual.

TV cameras were watching and photographers snapped pictures. The secretary of state's office wouldn't even accept the same-sex couple's paperwork for a new driver’s license.

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.

DeBoer Rowse Adoption Legal Fund

Update 8:27 am:

Rick Pluta reports from Ingham County that the first marriage there was performed at 8:05 am.

7:21 am Saturday:

Now four counties – Washtenaw, Oakland, Muskegon and Ingham – plan to open this morning to issue marriage licenses. Come back for updates from our reporters in the field.

Update 11 pm Friday:

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. 

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.

Sarah Cwiek / Michigan Radio

Activists on both sides of the marriage equality issue protested outside Detroit’s federal courthouse Monday, site of an ongoing court case that will decide the legality of Michigan’s same-sex marriage ban.

The case involves a Detroit area lesbian couple, Jayne Rowse and April DeBoer. They’re seeking the right to jointly adopt the three children they’ve been raising together.

Photo from the 2011 Capital Pride Parade in Washington, D.C.
user ep_jhu / Flickr

We are now into week two of the trial in federal court in Detroit centering on the challenge to Michigan's constitutional ban on same-sex marriage.

Two Hazel Park nurses are challenging that ban, which was passed by Michigan voters in 2004. The women want to get married so they can adopt each other's children.

As picketers on both sides of the issue march outside the federal court building in downtown Detroit comes word of a new State of the State survey conducted by Michigan State University.

It finds a majority of Michigan residents support gay marriage.

MSU Economics Professor Charles Ballard joined us to talk about this survey. He directs the survey.

*Listen to the interview above.

C-SPAN screen grab

DETROIT – The state of Michigan's defense of a ban on gay marriage is off to a rocky start after a judge refused to allow the first witness to testify.

Sherif Girgis is a law student at Yale University and a doctoral candidate at Princeton University. He has written and talked about a historical defense of marriage between a man and a woman.

Federal Judge Bernard Friedman says Girgis will be an expert witness – someday. Friedman says Girgis' opinions won't help him decide this case.

Two Detroit-area women are challenging Michigan's ban on same-sex marriage, which was approved by voters in 2004.

The state attorney general's office is defending the amendment this week and asked for a break Monday to summon another witness.

Wikimedia Commons

If the pollsters are right, here’s something you probably don’t know:

It’s perfectly legal to discriminate against gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender people.

A Gallup poll reported nearly nine out of ten people think LGBT people are already protected.

They are not.

Actually, Arizona and Michigan are not that different right now.

Paul Sancya / Associated Press

In Michigan, if a homosexual couple adopts children, the legal rights to the children can only be assigned to one parent.

If something were to happen to the parent with legal rights, the child could be returned to foster care and the surviving parent would have no legal ground to get them back.

For couple Jayne Rowse and April DeBoer, who have three adopted children, this fear is one they have had to live with for years. 

Tomorrow, a federal court case will begin that could change things in Michigan.

User: Brother O'Mara / Flickr

Same sex marriage trial

Michigan’s ban on same-sex marriage goes on trial this week in Detroit. The case involves a lesbian couple who want to get married so they can jointly adopt the special needs children they’re raising together.

Bills to crack down on meth move forward

"Legislation to stop the sale of ephedrine or pseudoephedrine to people convicted of methamphetamine-related crimes is moving ahead in Lansing. The state Senate last week overwhelmingly approved bills to alert Michigan stores not to sell cold medicine containing the popular ingredients for meth production to criminals convicted of meth offenses," the Associated Press reports.

Bankruptcy plan gives safety net for pensioners

"[Detroit's] bankruptcy plan calls for cutting pensions for general city retirees by up to 30 percent. But this fund would give some of that money back to pensioners who fall close to the federal poverty line," Sarah Hulett reports.

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