same sex marriage

One of the best days in Dana Nessel’s life  was Friday, June 26.

Four years earlier, two nurses came to her in despair. They were a committed, loving same-sex couple, who wanted to jointly adopt the three special needs children they had raised as foster parents.

But though the State of Michigan was happy with them as foster parents, it wouldn’t let them jointly adopt.

Nessel was cautioned by traditional liberal groups not to take this on, warned that a loss would set back same-sex rights for years, but she filed a federal lawsuit anyway.

It’s the upstarts versus the Establishment. Again.

And, this time, we don’t mean the Tea Party versus the Republicans. Rather, we’re talking about the gay rights movement in Michigan.

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Divorce is complicated. Even more so if there are children involved. But, for Carter Cortelyou there was another layer to his divorce that made it difficult for him to talk to about it, until now.  

In 2009, his wife came out to him — told him she is a lesbian. Since then, Cortelyou has gone through grief, isolation, financial challenges and re-entering the dating world unexpectedly.

“My first thought was there goes our 25th wedding anniversary (laughs), we were 24-years-married at the time and…there goes our 25th.”

It looks like we won’t be seeing an LGBT rights question on the statewide 2016 ballot.

Yet, it was not that long ago that it seemed a near-certainty that LGBT rights groups were ready to go to the ballot next year to amend Michigan’s Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act if the GOP-led Legislature refused to act.

Blue Ocean Faith is an all-inclusive Christian community in Ann Arbor
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Democrats hope the recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling on same-sex marriage will provide momentum for adding LGBT protections to Michigan’s civil rights law.

Ten Democrats have sent a letter to Senate Majority Leader Arlan Meekhof (R-West Olive) asking him to hold a vote on Senate Bill 315.

They say the fact that Michiganders can be fired or denied housing for being gay reflects poorly on legislative leaders.

“It’s an embarrassment and people are laughing at them right now.

Reactions to Supreme Court same-sex marriage ruling

Jun 26, 2015

Reactions are coming in from across Michigan to the Supreme Court's ruling that same-sex marriage is now legal throughout the U.S. 

We'll update this page with reactions.

Do you have something to say about the reactions? Tell us on our Facebook page, tweet us, or share your photos with us on Instagram.

In a 5-4 decision today, the U.S. Supreme Court changed the lives of millions of gay Americans, allowing them to have the same legal rights of marriage as heterosexual couples.

The state of Michigan played a big part in the case, as April DeBoer and Jayne Rowse challenged Michigan's ban on same-sex marriage in federal court – a case that made it all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court.

This timeline shows the path of how we got here. If you don't see the timeline below, you can view it in full here.

The winning team from Michigan. April DeBoer and Jayne Rowse (seated), and their legal team - L-R - Robert Asedler, Dana Nessel, Carole Stanyar, and Kenneth Mogill.
Mark Brush / Michigan Radio

The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled in a 5-4 decision that gay marriage is now legal throughout the U.S.

The sweeping ruling clears up years of confusion around a patchwork of state laws both banning and allowing same-sex marriages.

Read the historic opinion here.

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A deli worker at a Kroger supermarket is filing an employment discrimination complaint against the company and her union. She says it’s because a jointly run health benefits fund refused to accept
her wife after the two were legally married last year.

Stephanie Citron married her same-sex partner during the brief window last year when it was legal in Michigan. Once she went full-time with Kroger, she learned that her health benefits fund only covers the
spouses of opposite-sex married couples.

As soon as Thursday, the Supreme Court could decide the fate of millions of same-sex couples nationwide. In a ruling covering four cases, the court will determine whether states can prohibit same-sex marriage, as 13 states currently do.

It's always tough to predict how the court will rule but, broadly speaking, there are three main possibilities: the simplest is that the court declares state marriage bans unconstitutional, meaning states will all perform and recognize same-sex marriage. That's a pretty simple outcome, but things get much trickier in the other two cases.

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The U.S. Supreme Court is expected to rule soon on same-sex marriage.

The two questions before the court,

1) Does the Constitution require a state to license a marriage between two people of the same sex?

2) Does the Constitution require a state to recognize a marriage between two people of the same sex when their marriage was lawfully licensed and performed out-of-state?

The court’s decision will have repercussions throughout the country, and Michigan’s ban on same-sex marriage is one of the laws being challenged.

Dave Trumpie / Courtesy photo

County clerks across the state are getting ready for however the U.S. Supreme Court might rule on legalizing same-sex marriage.

Ingham County Clerk Barb Byrum says she’s keeping an e-mail list of gay and lesbian couples that want to get married, “…so when a decision in support of equality does come down, I can have direct communication with those parties that may be interested in obtaining a marriage license.”

U.S. Supreme Court
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Michigan and three other states are awaiting a U.S. Supreme Court decision regarding the constitutionality of same-sex marriage bans.

Michigan Radio's Jennifer White spoke to NPR's legal correspondent, Nina Totenberg, about the case and its possible implications for Michigan and the rest of the country. 

Here's their conversation:

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This Week in Michigan Politics, Jack Lessenberry breaks down what happened during the U.S. Supreme Court's hearing over gay marriage bans in Michigan and other states, why the state Senate also held a hearing on a religious freedom bill that same day, and why Michigan has the highest insurance rate in the country and possible changes to fix that. 

Paul Sancya / Associated Press

Crowds gathered as the US Supreme Court prepared to arguments on whether same-sex marriage bans like Michigan’s violate the Constitution.

A line of people camped out for several days hoping to get into the historic arguments before the Supreme Court.

For April DeBoer, it’s been a bit longer.

Tomorrow, the U.S. Supreme Court is set to take up the historic Michigan-based case that could determine the legality of same sex marriage throughout the United States.

The Court will hear arguments on four same sex marriage bans in Michigan, Ohio, Kentucky, and Tennessee. The Justices will weigh the rights of voters who approved the bans, the rights of gay and lesbian couples who want to be married, and the rights of same-sex couples who are already married in states that allow it.

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.


April 15th, the looming tax deadline, is approaching.

While it can be complicated for anyone to figure out what we owe Lansing and Uncle Sam, there’s a particular group facing extra complications: same-sex couples in Michigan. These couples can file a joint form for their federal taxes, but the state of Michigan considers them single.

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.

Democrats in the Michigan House of Representatives are introducing bills to repeal the state’s ban on same-sex marriage. This has about as much chance of becoming law as I have of becoming starting forward for the Detroit Pistons.

Republicans have large majorities in both the house and the senate, and they’d never support this. 

This weekend marked the one-year anniversary of the DeBoer decision that briefly legalized same-sex marriage in Michigan in March 2014. To that end, there were some three-hundred one-year wedding anniversaries celebrated around the state yesterday.

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Democratic lawmakers in Lansing are proposing a group of bills that would repeal Michigan's ban on same-sex marriage.

This legislation comes a little over a month before the Supreme Court will take up the Michigan case on the legality of same sex marriage.

State Rep. Jeremy Moss, D-Southfield, says they are introducing these bills now because Sunday marks the one-year anniversary of 300 same sex couples who were married in Michigan.

State Capitol
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The Michigan House yesterday approved legislation that would allow faith-based adoption agencies that receive state money to turn away couples based on religious objections. Today, legislative Democrats introduced bills to overturn Michigan's same-sex marriage ban.

Capitol Building, Lansing, MI
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The Supreme Court has announced they plan to hear arguments on two issues around same-sex marriage on April 28. Do same-sex couples have a constitutional right to marry, and are states required to recognize same-sex marriages performed in other states?

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Each Thursday, we discuss Michigan politics with Susan Demas, publisher of Inside Michigan Politics, and Ken Sikkema, former Senate Majority Leader and Senior Policy Fellow at Public Sector Consultants.

Today, we spoke about Governor Snyder's decision not to appeal a judge's ruling that says Michigan must recognize the roughly 320 same sex marriages that occurred in 2014. We also talked about where the state may be headed on LGBT rights.

Here's our conversation:

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.

Michigan's April DeBoer and Jayne Rowse were at the center of the Supreme Court case.

On January 16, the U.S. Supreme Court agreed to hear arguments this spring in four cases that could lead to legally recognizing same-sex marriage in all 50 states.

One of those four cases was brought by Jayne Rowse and April DeBoer of Hazel Park. The couple hopes to marry so they can co-adopt their four children. Dana Nessel is the attorney that will help them through the case.

But the nation’s big civil rights and gay rights groups are not stepping up to support this potentially historic case. Here’s why:

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

Gov. Rick Snyder says the state will recognize the marriages that were performed in Michigan last March. Those marriages were performed on March 22, 2014 - a day after a federal judge struck down Michigan's ban on same-sex marriage, and before another court put more of those marriages on hold while the case worked its way up through the courts.

Michigan could see 300 same-sex marriages legally recognized by the end of the week if Governor Snyder decides not to appeal a federal judge's opinion on the matter. 

Listen above to hear “It's Just Politics” co-hosts Zoe Clark and Rick Pluta give the lowdown, and check out their story here.

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.