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Saturday, May 18, 2024 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

Before Stay, Triumph for Gay Rights in Michigan

CINCINNATI (CN) - The 6th Circuit this weekend temporarily stayed a landmark decision to strike down the ban on same-sex marriage in Michigan.

A lesbian couple had brought the challenge in Detroit because but their three adopted children are entitled to have a legal relationship with only one parent.

Though the couple has been together for more than a decade, Michigan law only allows couples to joint adopt if they are married.

U.S. District Judge Bernard Friedman had found Friday that an amendment to the Michigan Constitution excluding gay couples from marrying violated federal law.

The landmark decision said the state has no basis to exclude same-sex couples from marriage and cannot use the marriage ban to deny a child of a same-sex couple a legal relationship with both parents. Friedman also rejected the state's claim that only heterosexual parents make the optimal parents.

"In attempting to define this case as a challenge to 'the will of the people,' state defendants lost sight of what this case is truly about: people," Friedman wrote. "No court record of this proceeding could ever fully convey the personal sacrifice of these two plaintiffs who seek to ensure that the state may no longer impair the rights of their children and the thousands of others now being raised by same-sex couples."

The victory was short-lived, however, as the 6th Circuit granted an emergency motion for a stay pending appeal Saturday.

The plaintiffs have until noon Tuesday to respond to the federal appeals court's stay, which remains in effect until Wednesday to allow a more reasoned consideration of the motion.

The American Civil Liberties Union had called Friedman's decision "a huge victory for the people of Michigan."

"The momentum toward LGBT equality is accelerating as yet another federal court finds that denying same-sex couples the fairness and dignity of marriage is unconstitutional," ACLU of Michigan executive director Kary Moss said in a statement. "Public opinion has changed drastically since 2004 when voters amended the Michigan constitution to exclude same-sex couples from marriage. Today, across the political spectrum, Michiganders recognize that allowing same-sex couples to marry is a matter of fundamental freedoms, economic security, and family values."

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