Dana Myers and her partner Chelsie Plotner, both of Ann Arbor, fill out a marriage license application. They have been together seven years and had a commitment ceremony July 6. (Clarence Tabb Jr. / The Detroit News)
Dozens of hopeful gay couples went to county clerk offices throughout Michigan in anticipation of a possible ruling overturning Michigan’s ban on same-sex marriage.
But a federal judge instead set a trial date, delaying a decision until at least late February.
“It’s very heartbreaking,” said Tracy Pennington, who was hoping to formally get married to her partner, Dana Bauer, of 13 years. They were 12th in line to receive a marriage application at the Washtenaw County Clerk’s office in Ann Arbor.
Pennington, 43, then began to break down. “We shouldn’t have to go away from where we live to have our rights and to love our partners and to have our families.”
But Bauer, 55, said she remains optimistic the Feb. 25 trial will render a decision in favor of same-sex couples marrying.
“It’s not going to help us with legalities this year and we can’t afford to go to another state and get married so we’re just going to have to gut it out,” she said.
The couple was among a large group of same sex couples and their supporters who crowded the clerk’s lobby earlier in the day to await the decision by U.S. District Court Judge Bernard Friedman.
At least 50 couples were requesting a marriage license.
Chelsie Plotner and Dana Myers, both 28 and from Ann Arbor, said they felt this was their time. Donning white, they were 30th in line to get their license. The tanned couple that had been together seven years had a commitment ceremony July 6 and just got back from a Hawaii honeymoon.
“To us, we are married but we aren’t legally in Michigan,” Myers said. “So to us, it will just be finishing that chapter of our lives.”
“I would like to see where love is equal in every relationship in every aspect,” Plotner said. “I would love to be able to marry my best friend and person I’m in love with.”
When Friedman’s decision was announced, many in the crowd who had waited hours in line to receive their application left with their heads down and stunned at the delay.
In Pontiac, about 12 people gathered near the Oakland County Clerk’s Office in anticipation they might be the first in the county to have a piece of paper certifying their marriage under state law. Women outnumbered men about six to one.
Jessica Wojcik, 29, of Farmington Hills, nervously clutched paperwork and glanced at her watch.
She said she and her partner, Grace Wojcik, have been married, “but not legally.”
“I’ve waited three years for this ... Public polls have show opinion is shifting on the issue (same sex marriage), said Jessica Wojcik, who works for Barnes & Noble book stores at university campuses in the state.
“Michigan used to be a pretty progressive state in public policy but in the past eight to 10 years it seems to be going in the other direction involving civil rights and individual rights in general.”
Gil Evans, 75, and Don Nadel, 78, both of Orchard Lake, were also waiting for their chance at a marriage license.
“We’ve been together for 53 years — 54 in January,” Evans said. “I don’t imagine it will change matters but this would be wonderful. To have equal rights. For inheritance. Taxation. Other things. I don’t think that’s too much to ask.”
Nadel, a retired art teacher, echoed his partner’s thoughts.
“We were kind of surprised there are so few people here,” he said. “We thought there would be a lot more in line.”