BY SARAH ELMS
— TRAVERSE CITY — No same-sex couples in Antrim, Benzie, Grand Traverse, Kalkaska or Leelanau counties received marriage licenses over the weekend in the small window it was legal for them to do so, and it could be months before they’ll have the chance to again.
Elon and Jenn Cameron, like many same-sex couples in Traverse City, planned to get married on Monday after U.S. District Court Judge Bernard Friedman last week struck down Michigan’s ban on same-sex marriage. But they had to change their plans.
By Saturday night the U.S. Appeals Court for the Sixth Circuit agreed to stay the decision. The court then extended the stay Tuesday afternoon, which means the case now must make its way through the federal appellate court and possibly to the U.S. Supreme Court before gay and lesbian couples in Michigan will know if they can legally marry.
Tuesday’s ruling was 2-1 and cited a similar case in Utah in which the Supreme Court stayed a lower court’s decision so that a higher court could make the final call.
“There’s a way that having basic human rights denied to you is a heavy weight that you carry with you every day,” Elon Cameron said. “The promise of change is something that so many generations of people have worked for.”
She said she knows same-sex marriage in Michigan will be legalized. It’s now a matter of how long the courts will take to make a decision.
This marks the second time the law prevented the Camerons, partners for 12 years, from tying the knot. The two were going to marry in California in 2008, but Proposition 8 — which eliminated same-sex marriage in the state — passed before they could exchange vows.
“Our story is riddled with the long line of the push-you, pull-you of the political system affecting our personal lives,” Elon Cameron said.
Traverse City Commissioner Ross Richardson said he wasn’t happy to see the decision delayed, but believes legal, same-sex marriage is inevitable nationwide.
“It’s still one of the fastest-moving divisive issues I’ve seen, in terms of public opinion flipping completely,” he said.
Eight other states — Utah, Virginia, Texas, Oklahoma, Nevada, Ohio, Kentucky and Tennessee — have same-sex marriage cases pending in appellate courts.
Elon Cameron said the couple are tired of the back-and-forth, but try to stay optimistic.
“I remain hopeful. I really do believe it’s just a matter of time,” she said. “I don’t think it will be reversed again. That would be an extreme back-slide in our nation’s progress toward justice.”