Michigan Gay Marriage Ban Reinstated by Appeals Court


Within 24 hours of the gay marriage ban in Michigan being overturned by a federal judge, hundreds of same-sex couples were married, but the wave of marriages might be temporary. The 6th U.S. Circuit Appeals Court in Cincinnati reinstated the Michigan gay marriage ban late yesterday following the original Friday decision to overturn the ban made by a judge from the lower courts.

The hold is temporary until Wednesday. The appeals court said that it would give more time for the state to reach a “more reasoned consideration” regarding Michigan’s effort to reverse the decision and to examine Judge Bernard Friedman’s reversal decision.

Earlier Saturday, before the ban was temporarily reinstated, county clerks in Michigan opened their doors to issue the first same-sex marriage licenses in the state. The first marriage license was issued to the pair of Marsha Caspar, 52, and Glenna DeJong, 53, at 8 a.m. in Ingham County by clerk Barb Byrum, who also married them. The couple has been in a relationship for 27 years before being able to wed. Caspar said she believed that “in [her] lifetime it would happen,” but is still surprised and overwhelmed. She said she “still can’t believe it.”

The Ingham County Clerk’s office was not the only one to open for marriage licenses; there were at least three other counties that opened and issued marriage licenses to same-sex couples. Reportedly, the Ingham, Oakland, Washtenaw and Muskegon counties dispensed more than 300 licenses to gay and lesbian couples on Saturday before the Michigan gay marriage ban was reinstated by the federal appeals court.

Bill Schuette, Michigan attorney general, put in an emergency request for a stay while awaiting an appeal. The stay was issued by the court only hours after the court was told to respond to Schuette’s request. The request was made quickly following Friedman’s decision to overturn the 2004 overwhelmingly voter-approved same-sex marriage ban. Friedman’s decision did not allow the state any time to make an appeal or implement the new legislation. Friedman said that what the voters want is not a justification for stomping out the rights of same-sex couples to marry.

DeJong and Caspar anticipated they stay. DeJong said that all she and Caspar needed for a push to wed was the looming threat of a stay. The couple said they knew it might not be a possibility to marry on Monday, so they took advantage of the “short window of time.” They were obviously not alone.

Now DeJong and Caspar will have to wait to see if their marriage will continue to be recognized if an appeal goes through. Spokesperson for Schuette, Joy Yearout, refused to address whether Michigan would recognize the marriages in this situation. Yearout said, “The courts will have to sort it out.” University of Michigan Professor Anna Kirkland said in an expert report that the same-sex couples that received their marriage licenses were still married legally irrespective of the courts decisions.

Now, those who did not marry in the first 24 hours of the ban reversal will again have to wait as the Michigan gay marriage ban has been reinstated by the federal appeals court.

By Rebecca Hofland
Follow Rebecca on Twitter @rebeccahofland

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