Traverse City Record-Eagle


March 15, 2014

Another View: Lawsuit aside, gay couples have hope

Across the country, rulings are piling up:

In Texas ... a federal judge ruled that the state’s ban on same sex marriages demeans the dignity of gay couples for no legitimate reason and is therefore unconstitutional. In Virginia, a federal judge ruled Feb. 13 that the state’s gay marriage ban is unconstitutional. In Oklahoma, a federal judge ruled in January against a Tulsa County Court Clerk who refused to grant a marriage license to two women who wanted to marry. In Utah, a federal judge in December ruled that a same-sex marriage ban violated gay and lesbian couples’ 14th Amendment rights.

Will Michigan be next? The lawsuit that could decide is being heard in Detroit, as federal District Judge Bernard Friedman weighs a case involving a lesbian couple who are not permitted to marry and adopt each other’s children due to the state’s 2004 law that defines marriage as between one man and one woman.

... (T)he couple’s attorneys presented their case. On Monday, Friedman dismissed the state’s first witness, a philosopher who has researched the debate surrounding the definition of marriage. The judge agreed with the plaintiff’s lawyers, who complained the witness lacked experience in child development, psychology or Michigan law.

Last fall, some same-sex couples hoped Friedman might rule in the case, but instead he scheduled the trial that began Feb. 25. That dashed hopes of couples who literally waited in county clerk’s offices with clergy members, hoping to procure marriage licenses and hold hasty ceremonies before an appeal.

Notably, judges in the states mentioned above also stayed their rulings to allow time for appeals. One supposes that could happen here as well. Yet that should not douse hopes indefinitely.

Public opinion has changed in the decade since Michigan voters passed the ban with 59 percent support. A new State of the State Survey from the Institute for Public Policy and Social Research at Michigan State University showed 54 percent support same-sex marriage and 59 percent support adoption rights of gays and lesbians.

Numerous other polls have showed similar shifts and the group Equality Michigan has discussed a ballot proposal favoring same-sex marriage, possibly for 2016.

Public opinion is changing and it seems probable that eventually Michigan’s laws will follow, by court order or by the ballot.

Lansing State Journal

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