gay marriage

Law
12:21 pm
Mon March 3, 2014

Michigan's witness in gay-marriage trial barred

Sherif Girgis.
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.

Investigative
3:05 pm
Wed February 26, 2014

If Arizona's bill to discriminate surprises you, you won't believe what's legal in Michigan

Michigan's laws make discrimination against LGBT legal.
Credit 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.

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Law
2:54 pm
Mon February 24, 2014

Lesbian couple's challenge to Michigan's ban on same-sex marriage starts tomorrow

DeBoer, Rowse, and their three children.
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.

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Politics & Government
7:18 am
Mon February 24, 2014

In this morning's headlines: Gay marriage, meth bills, Detroit pensions

Morning News Roundup, Thursday, Oct. 13, 2011
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.

Politics & Government
2:15 pm
Tue December 10, 2013

Facebook digs deeper into the adoption of equal sign profile pictures

You likely saw it unfold on Facebook earlier this year.

In late March, Facebook users began changing their profile pics to show their support for gay marriage.

Facebook tracked analyzed those changes and found that 2.77 million users in the United States made the switch - and the users who made the switch were more likely to live along the coasts or in the Great Lakes region.

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Investigative
2:53 pm
Wed November 20, 2013

Unequal by law: Being gay in Michigan

People gather at a celebration for equality at a church. Some Christians say they love and support the gay community and denounce the "mean-spirited and hateful words" coming from other Christians.
Lester Graham Michigan Radio

The documentary looks at religious views, transgender struggles, discriminatory laws, and anti gay-rights groups' concerns. You can listen to the full documentary below:

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Politics & Government
9:00 am
Sat October 19, 2013

Lessenberry talks bills to penalize drug users, gay marriage and Bernard Kilpatrick

The state capitol
Lester Graham Michigan Radio

Week in Review interview for 10/19/13

In This Week in Review, Weekend Edition host Rina Miller and political analyst Jack Lessenberry discuss bills in Lansing to penalize poor people who use drugs, a delay in the decision over gay marriage, and the sentencing of Bernard Kilpatrick.

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It's Just Politics
1:43 pm
Fri October 18, 2013

Hype surrounding same-sex marriage hearing lacked a reality check

It's Just Politics with Zoe Clark and Rick Pluta

It's Just Politics with Zoe Clark and Rick Pluta

Prospective brides and grooms in same-sex relationships could not be blamed for feeling jilted this week – not by their partners, but by the Eastern U.S. District Court in Detroit.

They expected this would be their day - that Judge Bernard Friedman would strike down Michigan’s ban on same-sex marriage, and they would be among the first gay and lesbian couples in Michigan to tie the knot.

Instead, disappointment. Anger. Tears, in some cases. Big expectations dashed because Judge Friedman did not uphold or strike down the amendment, which was approved by Michigan voters in 2004 by a pretty commanding majority.

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Investigative
10:10 am
Fri October 18, 2013

Meet the couple challenging Michigan's gay marriage ban

April DeBoer and Jayne Rowse wanted to jointly adopt their children. The State of Michigan argued they couldn't because they were not married. Now the couple is challenging the ban on gay marriage.
Credit Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

Hear from April DeBoer and Jayne Rowse, the couple challenging Michigan's gay marriage ban.

April DeBoer and Jayne Rowse wanted to jointly adopt their children.

In the years that they’ve lived together, Rowse has adopted two children, and DeBoer adopted one, splitting the responsibilities of parenthood together. But a state ban on same-sex joint adoptions prohibited them from officially adopting their children together.

So in January 2012, DeBoer and Rowse filed a lawsuit against the state, arguing that preventing such adoptions violated rights of their children.

But U.S. District Judge Bernard Friedman told the couple to take their complaint further — challenge the state’s constitutional ban on gay marriage.

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Law
1:02 pm
Wed October 16, 2013

Michigan gay couples prepare for "I do," if federal court decision allows

DeBoer/Rowse family
Paul Sancya Associated Press

County clerks are preparing for a deluge of marriage license applications from gay people late this afternoon, should U.S. District Court judge Bernard Friedman issue a ruling that would allow same-sex people to marry.

But the brides and grooms-to be could be disappointed.

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Investigative
8:10 am
Wed October 9, 2013

Moms fighting for joint adoption in Michigan end up challenging gay marriage ban

(l to r) Nolan (age 4), Ryanne (age 3), and Jacob (age 3) are the reasons Jayne Rowse and April DeBoer ended up challenging Michigan's Constitutional ban against same-sex marriage at the suggestion of the judge hearing their case.
Credit Lester Graham / Michigan Radio

Nolan, Ryanne, and Jacob were excited about showing me their toys when I visited the home of Jayne Rowse and April DeBoer.

These three little kids have no idea that their moms are in the middle of one of the most closely watched federal court cases in Michigan.

Rowse, who is the legal parent of Nolan and Jacob, and DeBoer, who is Ryanne’s legal parent, have been raising the kids together -- jointly sharing their lives and responsibilities.

The two nurses wanted to jointly adopt their kids to better protect their futures.

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Politics & Government
11:35 am
Fri September 27, 2013

Same-sex married couples filing joint federal return must file separately in Michigan

Rick Pluta

After the U.S. Supreme Court struck down the federal "Defense of Marriage Act" last July, the IRS announced that as of September 16th, gay couples with a state sanctioned marriage will be required to file their federal taxes as joint returns with their partner, or "married filing separately" - regardless of what state they live in now.

But in Michigan, those same couples will still be required to file separate returns, according to a document posted on the Michigan Department of Treasury's website.

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Politics & Culture
4:52 pm
Mon September 23, 2013

Stateside for Monday, September 23rd, 2013

In a few weeks, a U.S. District judge will hold a hearing on a Michigan case that challenges the state's constitutional ban on gay marriage. On today's show: we explored the implications the case could have in Michigan and across the nation.

Also on today's show, Michigan wines are really making a name for themselves outside of the state. We talked to a connoisseur who isn't the least bit surprised by that news. And, according to a new report, lobbyist spending on free lunches for legislators has gone up. We spoke to Rich Robinson of the Michigan Campaign Finance Network to see what else they are spending on. Also, The Mackinac Republican Leadership Conference was this past weekend. It's Just Politics co-hosts Rick Pluta and Zoe Clark joined us to talk about what happened there.

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Stateside
4:40 pm
Mon September 23, 2013

Michigan's gay marriage ban will be challenged in court in less than a month

DeBoer Rowse Adoption Legal Fund

On October 16th,  U.S. District Judge Bernard Friedman will be hearing a case, which challenges Michigan’s Constitutional ban on gay marriage.

The case didn’t start out that way. It started out as a court case to simply protect the futures of these three little kids who really don’t understand such things as government and lawyers and courts. They only know they have a happy home with their two moms.

DeBoer and Rowse wanted to jointly adopt their kids to better protect their futures. The State of Michigan argued, no way. They can’t. They’re not married.

Their case has become the most anticipated development in Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender people’s rights in Michigan. They’re involved in a Federal court case that challenges the state’s Constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage.

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Politics & Government
11:25 am
Fri August 30, 2013

Gay rights leaders welcome IRS tax ruling, say Michigan will need to address confusion

Domestic partner benefits include benefits to gay and non-gay couples.
user dbking Flickr

The IRS says same-sex couples legally wed in a state that allows it will be recognized as married for federal tax purposes -- even if they reside in a state like Michigan that does not allow same-sex marriage.

It’s not clear yet how the state will deal with the ruling.

Gay rights leaders say the IRS decision is very good news.

Emily Dievendorf is the director of Equality Michigan.

“So, while the federal government is now helping to provide some equality in federal income tax credits and child tax credits, Michigan tax credits do not apply to same-sex couples and families,” said Dievendorf.

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Law
7:00 am
Wed July 31, 2013

Preparing for the possibility of judge striking down gay marriage ban

Paul Holland (left) and Austin Ashley (right) plan a commitment ceremony in September before headed to New York to be formally married. They say they’d get married in Michigan if the state’s same-sex marriage is struck down.
Rick Pluta

Some county clerks are already planning what to do if a federal judge overturns Michigan’s ban on same-sex marriages. There are efforts underway to create a gender-neutral version of Michigan’s marriage license and county wedding applications.

Paul Holland and Austin Ashley are planning a commitment ceremony in late September.

Things appear to be coming together. A service at a Buddhist temple, followed by a reception with dancing, drinks, a cake. Well, if they can settle on a cake. Holland says there’s a disagreement there.

“One of us is going to have to give in and give something to the other one, or we’ll just flip a coin, or however it needs to be resolved.”

Sometime later this year, Holland and Ashley plan a trip to New York to be formally married in a state that permits same-sex weddings. Those plans could be altered depending on a decision by a federal judge in Detroit on or shortly after October 1. 

Ashley and Holland say they’d hold a legal wedding ceremony in Michigan if U.S. District Judge Bernard Friedman strikes down Michigan’s same-sex marriage ban and allows gay weddings to go ahead.

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Law
9:59 am
Thu July 11, 2013

Legal challenge to Michigan's ban on gay marriage will be heard in October

April DeBoer and Jayne Rowse, with their children.
Paul Sancya Associated Press

A federal judge in Detroit has set an October 1 hearing date for a legal challenge to Michigan’s ban on gay marriage and adoptions by same-sex couples. April DeBoer says the ban violates the civil rights of the three children she and her partner are raising together.

Judge Bernard Friedman wants to hear how attorneys for the state and for the couple -- DeBoer and Jayne Rouse -- think the Supreme Court’s ruling that struck down the federal Defense of Marriage Act affects this case.

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Politics & Government
6:56 am
Thu July 11, 2013

In this morning's news: Gay marriage lawsuit, Detroit pensions, union dues in schools

User: Brother O'Mara flickr

Hearing date set for challenge to gay marriage ban

"A federal judge has set an October 1 hearing date for a challenge to Michigan’s ban on gay marriage and adoptions by same-sex couples. A lesbian couple in Hazel Park is seeking the right to marry or jointly adopt the children they are raising together. Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette says the U.S. Supreme Court has allowed states to continue setting their own rules on marriage, and he is defending the Michigan Constitution," Rick Pluta reports.

Kevyn Orr and union leaders discuss pension benefits

"A group of Detroit pension and union leaders have met in the first of two closed-door meetings with the restructuring team of the city's state-appointed emergency manager. Kevyn Orr wants huge cuts in pension benefits and health insurance to avoid the largest municipal bankruptcy in U.S. history. Some bankruptcy experts say the session could be the tipping point that leads to an unprecedented bankruptcy," the Associated Press reports.

Reinstated law prohibits schools from taking union dues

A Michigan law prohibiting schools from taking payroll deductions for union dues is back on the books. A federal judge erased an injunction on the law after an appeals court struck down her 2012 decision suspending it. The law was approved by the Republican-controlled legislature and signed by Governor Rick Snyder. The appeals court said ending payroll deductions doesn't infringe on a union's right to free speech.

Law
5:41 pm
Mon July 1, 2013

Meet Bernard Friedman, the federal judge who decided to hear a challenge to gay marriage ban

Judge Bernard Friedman
wikipedia

Bernard Friedman is the U.S. District Judge who today refused to throw out a case that challenged Michigan's ban on gay marriage.

Friedman was nominated by President Ronald Reagan to be a federal judge for the Eastern District of Michigan in 1988 and he became the Chief Judge of the District in 2004. 

Now he has senior status, which a federal judge can opt for instead of retiring. A senior status judge only hears the cases that the Chief Judge assigns to him or her. 

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Politics & Government
2:15 pm
Mon July 1, 2013

Judge rules trial on Michigan's gay marriage ban will go foward

The couple challenging Michigan's ban on gay marriage - April DeBoer and Jayne Rowse of Hazel Park, Michigan.
Rowse/DeBoer

Now that the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled, United States District Judge Bernard Friedman wants a case challenging Michigan's adoption laws and the state's ban against same-sex marriage to go forward.

Today, Judge Friedman denied the state of Michigan's attempt to dismiss the case. He cited the recent U.S. Supreme Court rulings in his decision.

From Friedman's ruling:

"Construing the facts in the light most favorable to plaintiffs, and in view of the Supreme Court’s current statement of the law, this Court cannot say that plaintiffs’ claims for relief are without plausibility. Plaintiffs are entitled to their day in court and they shall have it."

Friedman wants both sides in the case to appear in court on July 10. More from the Associated Press:

Friedman says he wants to discuss a trial date. He says last week's U.S. Supreme Court decision probably will be cited by the plaintiffs as well as state attorneys who are defending Michigan's 2004 ban on gay marriage.

After last week's U.S. Supreme Court rulings, the power for states to define marriage was left intact.

But gay rights advocates were emboldened to continue with their challenges to state laws barring gay marriage.

At a hearing on the case earlier this year, the two sides presented their arguments to Friedman.

The Detroit Free Press' Brian Dickerson wrote that Friedman "has been telegraphing his profound skepticism" about Michigan's gay marriage ban.

Three months ago, in an extraordinary hearing held in the auditorium of the Wayne State University Law School, Friedman repeatedly challenged two lawyers from state Attorney General Bill Schuette’s office to explain what rational government purpose was served by treating same-sex couples differently. When the lawyers responded that Michigan had a legitimate interest in promoting “responsible procreation,” Friedman seemed more amused than persuaded, noting that many opposite-sex couples marry with no intention of conceiving or adopting children.

With the U.S. Supreme Court rulings striking down the Defense of Marriage Act and remanding California's Proposition 8 case back to the lower courts, Judge Friedman will have more precedent with which to make his judgment from.

In today's ruling, Friedman wrote about how he expects the Supreme Court rulings to be used in this case:

Defendants will no doubt cite to the relevant paragraphs of the majority opinion espousing the state’s “historic and essential authority to define the marital relation.”...They will couch the popular referendum that resulted in the passage of the MMA as “a proper exercise of [the state’s] sovereign authority within our federal system, all in the way that the Framers of the Constitution intended.”...

Friedman writes the plaintiffs, DeBoer and Rowse, will use the Supreme Court's ruling, along with other cases, to support their claims:

And why shouldn’t they? The Supreme Court has just invalidated a federal statute on equal protection grounds because it "place[d] same-sex couples in an unstable position of being in a second-tier marriage."...Moreover, and of particular importance to this case, the justices expressed concern that the natural consequence of such discriminatory legislation would not only lead to the relegation of same-sex relationships to a form of second-tier status, but impair the rights of “tens of thousands of children now being raised by same-sex couples” as well...This is exactly the type of harm plaintiffs seek to remedy in this case.


*This post has been updated.

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