Mich. asks Supreme Court to affirm gay marriage ban

Oralandar Brand-Williams
The Detroit News

Detroit — The state of Michigan on Monday asked the U.S. Supreme Court to affirm the state’s gay marriage ban and urged the court to quickly take up the case of a Hazel Park couple.

In the state’s filing, a 32-page brief, attorneys say the legal argument on marriage comes down to voters.

“This case comes down to two words: Who decides,” according to the brief. “The history of our democracy demonstrates the wisdom of allowing the people to decide important issues at the ballot box, rather than ceding those decisions to unelected judges.”

Attorneys for April DeBoer and Jayne Rowse, the couple challenging the state’s 10-year-old gay marriage ban, filed briefs with the Supreme Court last week, asking justices to review their case.

On March 21, U.S. District Judge Bernard Friedman struck down Michigan’s gay marriage ban in a lawsuit filed by DeBoer and Rowse, which seeks to overturn the ban and the state’s adoption codes that prohibit same-sex couples in Michigan from adopting. The couple are raising three children, whom they’ve individually adopted. They want the ban on same-sex marriage adoption overturned so they can both be legal parents to their children.

Friedman said the state’s same-sex marriage ban is “unconstitutional.”

“Many Michigan residents have religious convictions whose principles govern the conduct of their daily lives and inform their own viewpoints about marriage. Nonetheless, these views cannot strip other citizens of the guarantees of equal protection under the law,” Friedman wrote in the ruling.

Michigan voters in 2004 adopted the Michigan Marriage Amendment, which declares marriage is between “one man and one woman.” Friedman said it denies same-sex couples equal protection under the law.

Friedman’s ruling was appealed by the state of Michigan, which landed the case before the U.S. 6th Circuit Court of Appeals. Earlier this month, the Court of Appeals upheld the state’s gay marriage ban in a ruling with cases from Ohio, Kentucky and Tennessee.

Noting that circuit courts across the country are “split” on the issue of same-sex marriage, lawyers for the state argued Monday “Michigan fully recognizes that the state democratic process must yield if the majority adopts a policy that conflicts with the U.S. Constitution. The Constitution does not define marriage; rather it leaves that task to voters at the state level.”

The Supreme Court is expected to decide in January whether it will review the Michigan case. If the justices hear the case, a ruling could come by June, the traditional timetable for handing down decisions.

DeBoer and Rowse have vowed to keep fighting for the right to marry.

“When we first brought this case, we vowed to do anything we had to in order to protect our children and our family, even if that meant having to take our case all the way to the Supreme Court,” said DeBoer recently.