gay marriage

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A federal judge in Grand Rapids will not order the state of Michigan to immediately recognize the marriage of a gay couple from East Grand Rapids.

Brian Morgan and Bruce Merrucci got married in New York in 2013. A year ago they filed to jointly own their home. The Kent County clerk refused to change the deed because Michigan doesn’t recognize same-sex marriages.

The U.S. Supreme Court hears legal arguments next week in the legal battle over same-sex marriage. It's an extraordinarily high-stakes clash, but the men and women at the center of it see themselves as incredibly ordinary. The 12 couples and two widowers include doctors, lawyers, an Army sergeant, nurses and teachers.

american flag and lgbt flag
Flickr user Praveen / Flickr

The U.S. Supreme Court is set to hear arguments on the legality of same-sex marriage later this month, and a group of young conservatives is pushing to change the Republican Party platform on gay marriage.

U.S. Supreme Court

Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette's office has delivered the state's defense of its same-sex marriage ban to the U.S. Supreme Court.

The state’s 59-page brief focuses largely on states’ rights. The attorney general argues the case is not specifically about marriage, but who gets to decide the question.

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The state House has adopted legislation that would allow faith-based adoption agencies to continue to turn away LGBT couples – even if the U.S. Supreme Court legalizes same-sex marriage.

The bills would continue the current practice that could be threatened by a Supreme Court ruling. Republicans say the agencies shouldn’t be forced to choose between their religious values and performing their mission.

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The state House is poised to vote tomorrow  that would allow faith-based adoption agencies in Michigan to turn away couples based on a religious objection to their lifestyle

  House Republicans rejected a number of amendments in preliminary debate on the legislation. They would have required agencies to put the best interests of children over religious concerns, and to state in advance who they would refuse to serve.  

gop.gov / gop.gov

This week, Jack Lessenberry and Zoe Clark discuss legislation that would allow faith-based adoption agencies to refuse service to LGBT couples, State Superintendent Mike Flanagan’s call for a moratorium on charter school expansion, and Candice Miller’s announcement that she won’t seek reelection.


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Legislation that would allow faith-based adoption agencies to refuse to work with LGBT couples or anyone else based on moral or religious grounds is headed to the floor of the state House.

A state House committee approved the bills as the U.S. Supreme Court prepares to hear arguments on same-sex marriage. 

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Attorneys for April DeBoer and Jayne Rowse say their challenge before the U.S. Supreme Court to Michigan’s same-sex marriage ban focus on the harmful effects on children.

This is the first round of briefs to be filed since the Supreme Court agreed to hear challenges to same-sex marriage bans in Michigan, Ohio, Kentucky, and Tennessee.

Marsha Caspar and Glenna DeJong with Frizzy. They were the first same-sex couple married in Michigan on March 22, after a federal judge struck down the state’s same-sex marriage ban. The ban was restored by the U.S. Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals.
Rick Pluta / MPRN

More than 300 gay and lesbian couples in Michigan are legally married now that Governor Rick Snyder has decided not to contest a court order. It says the state has to recognize the marriages that took place last spring.

But, the state will continue to defend the same-sex marriage ban in a case before the U.S. Supreme Court.

Update 2/4/2015:

And, it's now been made official: Governor Snyder says the state will recognize the more than 300 gay and lesbian marriages that were performed in Michigan last March. Snyder says his administration will not challenger a judge's order issued last month to recognize the marriages performed during the window when they were legal.

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This week, Jack and Emily discuss what’s missing from President Obama’s proposed budget, a grant to help Flint’s water woes, and a new bill that would make it legal for unmarried people to jointly adopt children.


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Two unmarried people would be able to jointly adopt children together under a bill in the state House. Under current law, only married couples or single individuals can be grated parental rights to an adopted child.

The ZR2 concept features a 2.8 liter duramax diesel that will be going into the Colorado later this year.
Paige Pfleger / Michigan Radio

This Week in Review, Jack Lessenberry and Kyle Norris discuss a Republican plan to repeal the state's prevailing wage law, and whether things are looking up after a rough year for the auto industry.


The nine justices of the U.S. Supreme Court.
U.S. Supreme Court

The U.S. Supreme Court has agreed to take same-sex marriage cases from Michigan and three other states. The high court will decide this term whether the states' bans are constitutional.

In its decision to hear the case, the Supreme Court said the cases will be consolidated to answer two questions. From the decision:

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A federal judge says 300 gay and lesbian couples are legally married, and the state has to recognize them.

They were married on March 21, 2014. That’s the only day same-sex marriages were legal in Michigan. It was after a federal judge struck down the state’s same-sex marriage ban, and before an appeals court put that decision on hold.       

Jay Kaplan, an attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union, says the appeals court decision did not affect the marriages that were performed.

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This week, Jack Lessenberry and Emily Fox discuss some of 2014's top political stories. Funding for road repairs, Detroit's bankruptcy case and gay marriage all made headlines in Michigan this year.


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.

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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. 

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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. 

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