Judge rules Michigan’s marriage protection amendment unconstitutional, but appeals court issues stay
DETROIT, March 24, 2014 (LifeSiteNews.com) – Judge Bernard Friedman struck down Michigan's state constitutional marriage protection amendment late Friday afternoon. But that does not mean the state will recognize such unions as legal marriages yet.
In 2004, some 59 percent of Michigan voters amended the state constitution to read: “To secure and preserve the benefits of marriage for our society and for future generations of children, the union of one man and one woman in marriage shall be the only agreement recognized as a marriage or similar union for any purpose.” This was enacted “for future generations of children.”
April DeBoer and Jayne Rowse, a lesbian couple, sued for the right to adopt one another's children.
On Friday Judge Friedman, a Reagan appointee, ruled that the state's amendment, supported by 2.7 million Michigan residents, violated the U.S. Constitution, paving the way for homosexual adoption as well.
Most Michigan county clerks had already closed when his ruling came down, after 5 p.m. But clerks in four liberal counties – Ingham, Muskegon, Oakland, and Washtenaw – performed about 300 “marriages.”
The Washtenaw County Board of Commissioners, located in Ann Arbor, reduced the usual $50 fee for processing to one cent.
But on Saturday, the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati granted a stay in response to a request from Attorney General Bill Schuette.
"To allow a more reasoned consideration of the motion to stay, it is ordered that the district court's judgment is temporarily stayed until Wednesday," the ruling read. The court is considering similar appeals from Kentucky and Ohio. A ruling is expected later this week.
Until that ruling takes place, it is not clear that the 300 unions will be legally acknowledged.
Judge Friedman's ruling made Michigan the 21st state to legalize gay “marriage,” 11 of them by judicial decree. Other recent judicial decisions have taken place recently in Virginia, Kentucky, Texas, Ohio, Oklahoma, and Utah.
Emily Dievendorf, executive director of Equality Michigan, a homosexual activist and marriage redefinition organization, said its members were “pleased that Judge Friedman came down firmly on the right side of history.”
But Gary Glenn, president of the American Family Institute of Michigan, said, “This one political elitist put his own personal views above the will of the people, arrogantly ruling that all 2.7 million voters were ‘irrational’ in their common sense belief that the ideal environment for every child is having both a mother and a father committed to each other and to their children in marriage. We support Attorney General Bill Schuette in his appeal to overturn this illegitimate decision that has at least temporarily stripped Michigan citizens of the full measure and impact of their voting rights.”
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Family Research Council President Tony Perkins agreed. “The Left continues to push their social agenda into the courtrooms to demand the change that voters won’t give them,” he said.
The seven diocesan and archdiocesan Catholic bishops of the state also reacted, upholding the definition of marriage and vowing to fight on.
“Nature itself, not society, religion or government, created marriage,” they wrote.
They added that homosexuals should not be reviled, and that they “rejoice with those brothers and sisters in Christ living with same sex attraction who have found great freedom through Jesus' call to chastity communicated through the Church.”
“We, the Catholic bishops of this state, working through the Michigan Catholic Conference, will collaborate with those who are upholding Michigan’s Marriage Amendment and adoption statute and will assist to the greatest extent possible efforts to appeal Judge Friedman’s most regrettable ruling,” they concluded.
Even some not regarded as rock-ribbed conservatives have questioned the ruling and what comes next. “In France, the Netherlands — even Italy, with its stereotype of the big family — marriage is becoming passé,” Detroit radio personality Mitch Albom wrote in the Detroit Free-Press, the more liberal of the Motor City's two newspapers. “I fear, once this current debate is settled, we will head that way, as well."
“No wonder people are confused. In the end, folks just don’t want to feel threatened or bullied,” he wrote. Many gays have long felt bullied by society; many heterosexuals now feel bullied by a new ideology.”
On Monday, the Free-Press recounted how the pregnancy of a former lesbian clerk, Judith Levy, may have swayed Judge Friedman's views of homosexuality and parenthood.