American Foundation for Equal Rights

Marriage News Blog

Federal Court to Rule on Marriage Equality in Michigan Within 2 Weeks

A federal judge in Michigan has indicated he will decide within two weeks whether the state’s  laws prohibiting gay and lesbian couples from marrying and adopting children are constitutional. On Friday, closing arguments in DeBoer v. Snyder ended nine days of trial.

The trial is the second time a federal court heard expert testimony on the issue of marriage for gay and lesbian couples. In January 2010, AFER’s attorneys led by Ted Olson and David Boies presented 17 witnesses in Perry v. Schwarzenegger (later Hollingsworth v. Perry), which became known as a “truth commission” on marriage equality.

Lawyers representing two nurses, April DeBoer and Jayne Rowse, echoed the same arguments put forth in the Perry trial:

“There is a well-emerged awareness that denial of the right to marry is a form of discrimination that our society can no longer tolerate…The right to marry is a fundamental right. It should apply regardless of sexual orientation.”

Witnesses representing the State, which is defending the ban, used the same, tired arguments we’ve seen in the past:

“The voters made a decision to define [marriage] as between a man and woman. Moms and dads are important, and children benefit from having both.”

Assistant state attorney Kristin Heyse argued on behalf of the State that the 2004 voter-approved amendment is the will of the people, and that the court would be unjust in overturning the law.

A February 2014 poll conducted by Equality Michigan shows 59% of adults in the state support the freedom to marry.

Since Judge Bernard Friedman scheduled the trial in October of last year, District Court decisions in Virginia, Utah, Oklahoma, and Texas have ruled laws prohibiting loving gay and lesbian couples from marrying are unconstitutional. Additionally, a District Court decision in Kentucky ordered the state to recognize out-of-state marriages.