DETROIT, MI — U.S. District judge Bernard Freidman ruled at 5:00 PM on Friday that Michigan’s gay marriage ban is unconstitutional, prohibiting the state of Michigan from continuing to enforce the Michigan Marriage Amendment.
Meanwhile, nationwide, many members of the LGBT community are rejoicing. Especially those in Michigan, such as myself.
My fiance’ and I were only two out of the hundreds of individuals who rallied outside the Washtenaw County Courthouse in Ann Arbor on October 16th, 2013 in the hopes that the same sex marriage ban would have been overturned then. To our dismay, it was not.
Countless members of the LGBT community left the courthouse in tears. It was a sad thing to experience. Especially when watching elderly couples emerging from the court house holding hands and crying on each other’s shoulders. It became obvious to me that this ruling on marriage might possibly be even more important for our older generation of LGBT couples, after all, they are running out of time when it comes to being able to marry the ones they love. The unfortunate truth is, they might not see the day where gay marriage becomes legal. Most likely, my generation will.
Caitlen, my fiance’ and I, were one of several couples who were given a number that the state would have to uphold come February (now March) allowing us to obtain a marriage license if the judge ruled against the ban. It looks like now, might be our chance!
Though it is sad that we have to fight so hard for basic human rights and be told to “pick a number” for something as simple as getting married to the one we love, it is nice to see that the LGBT community is making progress, slowly but surely in the fight for equal marriage rights for same sex couples, let alone in my home state, Michigan.
So far, there is no indication that the judge will suspend his decision. According to Fox News, “Attorney General Bill Schuette said he was immediately filing a request with a federal appeals court to suspend Friedman’s decision and prevent same sex couples from immediately marrying”.
Since Friedman’s decision was released shortly after 5:00 PM, when most county clerk offices in MI are closed, there wasn’t much any of us could do, as far as getting hitched is concerned. (Clerks are the ones who issue marriage licenses). However, I am curious to see what will happen next, especially since we are number 66 in line for a marriage license! Engaged this week…legally married the next? I guess we’ll just have to wait and see.
The ruling on the Michigan Marriage Ban comes more than two years after plaintiffs Jayne Rowse and April DeBoer (both nurses from Hazel Park) filed a lawsuit against the state of MI over being prohibited from jointly adopting their three children with special needs. The couple feared that if one parent were to die, the other might not get custody of all three children without a legal marriage in Michigan.
Currently, Rowse has adopted their two sons, Jacob and Nolan, while DeBoer has adopted daughter, Ryanne.
In 2012, Judge Friedman advised the couple that their chances of winning the case would be better if they challenged the state’s gay marriage ban, rather than just adoption laws. With that, they expanded their lawsuit to do so, quickly putting them under the national spotlight.
The judge denied requests last year to dismiss the lawsuit saying the couple “deserve their day in court”.
Rowse and DeBoer were given nine days in court that concluded two weeks ago. The court case has caused quite the crowd of supporters and protestors, rallying outside the courthouse for two weeks.
“It’s unbelievable,” DeBoer said on television. “We got our day in court. We won.” (Fox News)
What is extremely surprising to me about this case is the fact that the couple didn’t have to testify. According to Fox News the trial had nothing to do with their relationship and an attorney for the state even told the judge that the lesbian couple are great parents.
Experts testifying for the couple stressed that there are no differences between the children of same-sex couples, and the children raised by a man and a woman. (As if we didn’t already know this).
Overall, I’m just pleased that the state of Michigan, which I have always viewed as being quite closed-minded, is beginning to look a little brighter for those of us just asking for the same basic human rights that heterosexual couples are afforded.
All we are asking for is equal rights…no more, no less, and damn it! It looks like we just might get it!