same sex marriage

Law
9:37 am
Mon July 29, 2013

State attorney general responds to challenge to same-sex marriage ban

Jayne Rowse and April DeBoer, with their adopted children.
DeBoer Rowse Adoption Legal Fund

The state attorney general’s office has filed its response to a lesbian couple’s claim that Michigan’s marriage and adoption laws discriminate against their children.

Jayne Rowse and April DeBoer are suing the state to overturn the ban on same-sex marriage. The amendment to the Michigan Constitution was approved by voters in 2004.

Rowse and DeBoer originally sued to win rights to jointly adopt the three children they’re raising together. U.S. District Court Judge Bernard Friedman suggested they should expand their challenge to include the marriage amendment. So they filed a 34-point amended complaint last September. It says the marriage amendment violates their family’s rights to equal protection.

Expanding the scope of the lawsuit upset social conservatives like Gary Glenn of the American Family Association. He helped draft the amendment and was a leader of the campaign to adopt it.

“We believe it’s the duty of the governor of this state and the attorney general to enforce state law and uphold and defend the vote of the people and our state constitution,” Glenn said. “Even in the face of a decision by a federal judge who presumes to take it upon himself to have the power to overrule millions of Michigan voters.”

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Politics & Government
9:00 am
Sat July 13, 2013

The week in review: Taylor teacher contracts, same-sex adoption, and Detroit pensions

Lester Graham Michigan Radio

Each week, Michigan Radio's political analyst Jack Lessenberry, and weekend host Rina Miller look back on the big news events in Michigan. You can listen to their discussion above. Below is a short summary.

Lawsuit over Taylor School District contract tossed out

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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
7:16 am
Tue July 2, 2013

In this morning's news: Challenge to gay marriage ban, changing public defense, bankruptcy in Flint

Morning News Roundup for Tuesday, July 2, 2013
User: Brother O'Mara flickr

Federal judge will hear challenge to gay marriage ban

A federal judge is allowing a legal challenge to Michigan adoption laws and its ban on same-sex marriage to move forward. Judge Bernard Friedman says the decision to strike down DOMA last week left unanswered questions that could be addressed by this case. April DeBoer and Jayne Rowse are raising three children together; they say Michigan law violates the equal protection rights of their children. The judge called a July 10th hearing to chart the next steps in the case.

Legislation to improve legal defense for indigent Michiganders

Governor Rick Snyder signed legislation yesterday that will make changes to the state’s public defense system. The bill will create a commission to set statewide standards to ensure effective legal representation for poor defendants. The commission will also monitor counties to make sure each one is meeting those standards.

Flint EM warns possibility of bankruptcy

Flint's Emergency Manager, Ed Kurtz, warns the city could run out of money if it's forced to pay retirees full health benefits. A federal judge recently ruled Flint has to give retired workers the benefits they were promised. Kurtz says the decision hurts retirees more than it helps and that bankruptcy would mean much bigger cuts for retirees and current workers.

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.

Stateside
5:32 pm
Wed June 26, 2013

How the Supreme Court's ruling on same-sex marriage will impact Michigan

Guillaume Paumier/Flickr

An interview with Larry Dubin and Emily Divendorf.

The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that the Defense of Marriage Act is unconstitutional, meaning same-sex couples who are legally married will be recognized by the federal government. The court also ruled in a case that basically makes same-sex marriage in California legal.

But what does that mean for Michigan?

In 2004 voters approved a state constitutional amendment banning recognition of same-sex marriage or similar union. What’s the future of that amendment? What changes will there be for same-sex couples legally married in another state but living in Michigan?

Larry Dubin, a professor at the University of Detroit Mercy law school and Emily Dievendorf, the managing director of Equality Michigan, joined us today to discuss the issue.

Listen to the full interview above.

Politics & Culture
2:28 pm
Wed June 26, 2013

Stateside for Wednesday, June 26th, 2013

We continued our look at energy in Michigan today with coal. DTE Energy's Skiles Boyd and the Sierra Club's Tiffany Hartung spoke with us about what is being done in Michigan to reduce coal emissions and move towards renewable energy.

Also, the new Whole Foods store in Midtown Detroit has garnered a lot of attention. We talked with Kami Pothukuchi and Micki Maynard about how the store has affected the area.

First on the show, the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that the Defense of Marriage Act is unconstitutional, meaning same-sex couples who are legally married will be recognized by the federal government. The court also ruled in a case that basically makes same-sex marriage in California legal.

But what does that mean for Michigan?

In 2004, voters approved a state constitutional amendment banning recognition of same-sex marriage or similar union. What’s the future of that amendment? What changes will there be for same-sex couples legally married in another state but living in Michigan?

Larry Dubin, a professor at the University of Detroit Mercy law school and Emily Dievendorf, the managing director of Equality Michigan, joined us today to discuss the issue.

Politics & Government
8:57 am
Wed June 26, 2013

This week in Michigan politics: No Medicaid expansion, Voting Rights Act, same-sex marriage outlaw

Matthileo Flickr

Week in Michigan politics interview for 6/26/2013

This week in Michigan politics, Jack Lessenberry and Emily Fox discuss the state Senate's failure to expand Medicaid before summer recess, how states will be affected by the Voting Rights Act, and legislation in Lansing to re-consider the state's outlaw on same-sex marriage.

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Stateside
6:06 pm
Mon June 24, 2013

Michigan House Democrats introduce new same-sex marriage bills

LGBT rainbow flag flapping in the sun
user Marlith Flickr

An interview with Rick Pluta.

This morning, some Michigan House Democrats gathered on the front lawn of the Capital to explain some new bills that would allow marriage for people who are gay or lesbian.

Polls of Michigan citizens indicate a growing number of people say it’s time for marriage equality for LGBT folks - about 57% approve.

That’s quite a turnaround. Just nine years ago the people of Michigan approved a state constitutional amendment specifically banning gay marriage. It passed by nearly 59%.

In the midst of this, we’re waiting for decisions on two gay rights issues in the U.S. Supreme Court. To help wade through all this and what it means is Rick Pluta, capital bureau chief for the Michigan Public Radio Network. 

Listen to the full interview above.

Politics & Culture
5:56 pm
Mon June 24, 2013

Stateside for Monday, June 24th, 2013

We begin a week-long look at energy in Michigan. Today, we focused on solar energy and what it could mean for our state.

And, we turned to Lansing where some Democrats in the state House are introducing legislation to allow gay marriage in Michigan.

Also, we spoke with Charles Ballard and Rick Haglund about whether Michigan is going to make an economic comeback.

First on the show, the Annie E. Casey Foundation has issued its annual Kids Count report on the well-being of children across the nation. In Michigan, the outline is a mixed bag, but overall Michigan is last among Great Lakes states for child well-being.

There were improvements in how well kids are doing in school, some improvements in the area of the health of kids and the number who have health insurance, but in every category of economic well-being, children in Michigan are in worse shape.

Patrick McCarthy is the President and Chief Executive author of Kids Count, and he joined us today to discuss the issue.

Politics & Government
2:58 pm
Thu June 13, 2013

Bolger considers adding sexual orientation to civil rights law

Gays and lesbians in Michigan could be protected from discrimination if sexual orientation is added to the state's civil rights law.
Credit Wikimedia Commons

Michigan State House Speaker Jase Bolger (R-Marshall) could be opening the door to extending civil rights protections to gays and lesbians. That would outlaw discrimination based on sexual orientation in areas such as employment and housing.

The state's civil rights act protects a variety of groups from discrimination. It includes protections for categories like race and age, but sexual orientation has yet to be included.

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Politics & Culture
5:29 pm
Tue June 4, 2013

With more supporting gay marriage, how are Michigan lawmakers approaching LGBT rights?

An LGBT pride flag.
user Marlith Flickr

An interview with Senator Rebekah Warren.

In 2004, 58% of Michigan voters voted yes to a constitutional ban on same-sex marriage.

But that was nearly a decade ago. Since that vote, there's been an annual survey testing Michiganders' attitudes towards the issue. And the latest survey by the Glengarriff Group shows a major turnaround in the way we view same-sex marriage.

Today, Michigan voters back gay marriage by a 57% to 37% margin — almost an exact reversal of the vote on the constitutional ban.

With that backdrop, four Democratic senators have proposed a package of legislation that would advance recognition of same-sex marriage in our state.

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Politics & Culture
5:22 pm
Tue June 4, 2013

Stateside for Tuesday, June 4th, 2013

A group of Democratic Senators in Lansing have proposed a package of bills dealing with marriage equality. We spoke with state Senator Rebekah Warren about why she thinks now is the time to bring up these measures.

And, the library you may have grown up with is changing. We took a look at the new technologies changing the way we access information and what that means for the future of libraries in Michigan.

Also, Michigan gas prices are now the second-highest in the country. Patrick DeHaan, a Senior Petroleum Analyst, spoke with us about how this happened.

First on the show, state lawmakers are considering a bill that would allow suspicion-based drug testing as a condition of welfare in Michigan. People on cash assistance could lose their benefits if they test positive for an illegal substance.

As Michigan Public Radio’s Jake Neher reported, it’s not clear how the bill would affect medical marijuana patients.

Politics & Government
5:07 pm
Tue May 28, 2013

Ingham County trying to protect the property rights of gay couples

Lansing City Clerk Chris Swope (left) looks on as his husband Bradley Rakowski signs an affidavit in the Ingham County Register of Deeds office. Register Curtis Hertel Jr. (right) looks on
Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

There’s a new effort to protect the property rights of same-sex couples in Michigan.

Currently, Michigan law only allows a spouse to inherit property in the absence of a will.  Michigan's constitution prohibits same sex marriage.   

But Ingham County is now recognizing out-of-state marriage licenses or affidavits from gay couples.  The county’s Register of Deeds says including the documents will help protect the property rights of same-sex couples.  

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Politics & Government
9:52 am
Fri May 3, 2013

Michigan Supreme Court declines to hear live-in partner benefits case

The Michigan Supreme Court has declined to hear a challenge to the policy that allows live-in partners of state employees to be covered by their health coverage.

The court’s decision allows the policy to stand. 

The benefit was negotiated as part of most state employee contracts.

Attorney General Bill Schuette challenged the benefit arguing that providing insurance for live-in partners violates the state’s ban on recognition of same-sex marriage and civil unions.

Voters approved a ban on same-sex marriage in 2004.

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Politics & Government
5:47 pm
Thu March 28, 2013

Weekly Political Roundup: Legal challenges to new EM law, and same-sex marriage ban

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

Each week we discuss Michigan politics with Susan Demas, political analyst for Michigan Information and Research Service, and Ken Sikkema, Senior Policy Fellow at Public Sector Consultants.

Michigan’s new emergency manager law went into effect today, so we wanted to find out how the new law differs from the one voters overturned in the November 2012 election. And we discuss the legal challenges to the new law. Plus, the Supreme Court is hearing two cases this week centering on same-sex marriage. In Michigan in 2004, voters approved a constitutional ban of same-sex marriage and civil unions. There has been a legal challenge to that ban, but the judge overseeing the case chose to delay his decision until after the Supreme Court makes their ruling. 

Listen to the full interview above.

Investigative
7:00 am
Wed March 27, 2013

Religious liberties for some, but not for LGBT marriage in Michigan (Part 3)

LGBT rainbow flag flapping in the sun
user Marlith Flickr

Some Michigan legislators have pushed bills calling for religious liberties to be honored through law. But one person’s religious liberty might be another person’s religious suppression.

Much of the debate about same-sex marriage is centered in people’s religious beliefs. The religion with the most followers in Michigan is the Catholic Church. It opposes same-sex marriage.

“Marriage from the Catholic perspective is between one man and one woman because that promotes the creation, the procreation of life,” explained Thomas Hickson, Vice President of Public Policy and Advocacy for the Michigan Catholic Conference

It should be noted that a survey of Michigan voters last year found the majority of people who identified themselves as Catholic approved of same-sex civil unions or marriage. But that’s not the Church’s official position.

Recently the Catholic Conference announced its advocacy priorities for the current legislative session.  Among the religious liberties it intends to defend is a 2004 amendment to the Michigan Constitution. That amendment defines marriage as between one woman and one man. It also bans recognition of similar unions- in other words Michigan cannot grant any of the rights or privileges of marriage to same-sex couples. No adoption rights. No survivor’s benefits. No health insurance for public employees.

But, some other religious organizations view same-sex marriage differently and feel gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender people should be treated equally under the law.

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Arts & Culture
7:50 am
Mon March 18, 2013

Northern Michigan tribe legalizes same sex marriage

Fred Harrington (left) leads a traditional Odawa wedding ceremony for Tim LaCroix (center left) and Gene Barfield (center right)
Emily Fox Michigan Radio

Audio story

A Native American tribe in northern Michigan has become one of the first in the nation to legalize same sex marriage.

The Tribal Chairman of the Little Traverse Bay Band of Odawa Indians signed a statute Friday to legalize same sex marriage. Just moments after Chairman Dexter McNamara gave the final swipe of his pen, he married two men from Boyne City.

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Politics & Government
5:35 pm
Fri March 15, 2013

Michigan tribe allows same-sex marriage, couple weds

Tim LaCroix (center left) and Gene Barfield (center right) are the first to legally marry under the Odawa tribe
Emily Fox Michigan Radio

Two men from Boyne City were the first same sex couple in Michigan to be legally married today.

This came minutes after the Little Traverse Bay Band of Odawa Indians signed a statute to legalize gay marriage within the tribe.

Here's an on-air report I filed with sounds from the ceremony:

The Odawa tribe is the first tribe in Michigan and one of only three in the nation to legalize same sex marriage.

Denise Petoskey with the Odawa Tribe proposed the same sex marriage statute to the tribe last year.

“I’m just really excited and proud to be Odawa and I think it’s amazing and I hope other people take our lead,” said Petosky.

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Politics & Government
7:37 am
Thu March 14, 2013

In this morning's news: Detroit EM announcement, human trafficking, Odawa same-sex marriage

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Governor Snyder expected to appoint an EM for Detroit today

Governor Rick Snyder is expected to announce his pick for Detroit's emergency manager today. As the Detroit Free Press reports,

"Snyder is widely expected to name high-powered Washington, D.C., lawyer Kevyn Orr, 54, who worked in a number of federal government roles and had a hand in Chrysler’s bankruptcy turnaround."

Commission will study human trafficking

"A commission will spend six months studying the problem of human trafficking and child prostitution in Michigan. The task force will then deliver a set of recommendations on new laws and ways to connect victims of human trafficking with help. Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette convened the task force," Rick Pluta reports.

Odawa tribe to allow same-sex marriage

"The chairman of a northern Michigan Indian tribe says he'll sign a same-sex marriage bill Friday, then preside at the wedding of two men. The legislative body of the Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians voted 5-4 on March 3 to amend the Harbor Springs-based tribe's laws to allow same-sex marriages," the Associated Press reports.

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