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Dems put focus on gay marriage ahead of High Court arguments

Oralandar Brand-Williams
The Detroit News

Detroit — Just over a month away from historic oral arguments before the U.S. Supreme Court challenging Michigan's gay marriage ban, a group of Democratic state lawmakers intends to introduce a package of bills to repeal the 10-year-old state law.

Democratic state representatives announced Wednesday they want to repeal the ban that was implemented in 2004 after overwhelmingly support by Michigan voters.

The proposed legislation will be introduced as plans are underway two major events scheduled for this weekend celebrating supporting same-sex marriage in Michigan.

The legislation comes as some of the more than 300 gay couples wed in Michigan in 2014 plan on Sunday to publicly mark their one-year anniversary. They're expected to gather with family and friends in Ferndale, Ann Arbor, Lansing and Muskegon to celebrate being granted licenses during a 10-hour window on March 22, 2014, when their unions were legally recognized.

County clerks in Oakland, Washtenaw, Ingham and Muskegon counties performed the marriages before a stay was granted blocking a ruling by U.S. District Judge Bernard Friedman that found the state's gay marriage ban unconstitutional.

"As thousands wait in anticipation of the Supreme Court decision in June, this anniversary marks a special day for these couples and for the many who are fighting for the same basic right to marry and live as a family," said Regina Calcagno, a spokeswoman for the Michigan for Marriage campaign.

On Saturday, the Fifth annual Ultimate LGBT Wedding & Anniversary Expo will be held 12:30-4 p.m. at the Southfield Civic Pavilion. The event will feature and promote businesses that provide weddings and other related-services to same-sex couples.

Lawmakers are scheduled to lay out details of the proposed legislation to repeal Michigan's gay marriage ban at an 11:30 a.m. news conference Thursday at the state Capitol in Lansing.

They will be joined by Glenna DeJong and Marsha Caspar, the first legally married same-sex couple in Michigan.

U.S. District Judge Mark Goldsmith ruled in January the state must recognize those marriages.

Bianca Racine and her wife, Carrie, were among the couples wed last year and Racine said she's happy to see state lawmakers still fighting for the rights for other gay couples to be married.

"While we have the Supreme Court case we want to be proactive," Racine said Wednesday. "We want to show that discriminating against people is not OK."

The arguments before the Supreme Court are scheduled for April 28. Michigan's case will be argued along with ones from Ohio, Kentucky and Tennessee. A decision on the cases is not expected until June.

bwilliams@detroitnews.com

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