Mich. gay rights activists hail same-sex ruling

The Detroit News

Gay rights advocates and some of Michigan's largest employers hailed Friday's Supreme Court ruling that wiped out the state's ban on same-sex marriage and those in 13 other states, while top state officials, including Gov. Rick Snyder, said they would respect the decision.

"We're elated, not just for our family but for hundreds of thousands of families around the country," said April DeBoer of Hazel Park, who initiated the legal battle with her partner, Jayne Rowse, to overturn Michigan's law against same-sex marriage.

"Marriage equality is now law of the land — nationwide! Just take a minute to let that sink in," said Regina Calcagno, a spokeswoman for the Michigan for Marriage campaign.

"All of our hard work — all of it — has been leading up to this very moment," she said. "And soon, loving and committed same-sex couples will be able to marry from coast to coast."

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV's U.S. unit, based in Auburn Hills, praised the Supreme Court's decision, as did Kellogg Corp., Dow Chemical and Whirlpool Corp.

U.S. Rep. Sander Levin, D-Royal Oak, said the decision would make same-sex spouses eligible for full Social Security and veterans benefits in all 50 states.

"This is a historic day, reflecting what each of us knows in our hearts and within our communities, we are all equal and should be able to marry who we love," he said.

Attorney General Bill Schuette, who led the state's legal battle to uphold its voter-approved same-sex marriage ban, issued this statement about the ruling: "We will honor, respect and uphold the decision of the Supreme Court of the United States. We are appreciative that a decision finally has been reached in this very significant issue."

A day after blasting the Affordable Care Act — upheld by another landmark Supreme Court decision — Schuette refused to be pinned down about his personal views on gay marriage. He said he defended Michigan's gay marriage ban as an obligation of his office and accepts the ruling as final word on the issue.

"This case involved good people, well-intentioned people on each side," he said, pledging to conform to the ruling "and more fundamentally respect the rights of every person in Michigan ... who's impacted by this decision."

He said following further analysis of the 103-page ruling, lawmakers and Snyder likely will have to make some legal changes.

"I think there's plenty of work for the Legislature and the governor — to look at the decision, what laws are on the books now that might need to be normalized, put in sync, what have you," Schuette said.

Snyder, who repeatedly refused to take a position on same-sex marriage, called for "respect and dignity" in a statement Friday.

"Same-sex marriage has been a divisive issue in Michigan and across our country," the governor said. "Recognizing that there are strong feelings on both sides, it is important for everyone to respect the judicial process and the decision today from the U.S. Supreme Court. Our state government will follow the law and our state agencies will make the necessary changes to ensure that we will fully comply.

"Let's also recognize while this issue has stirred passionate debate, we now should focus on the values we share. With this matter now settled, as Michiganders we should move forward positively, embracing our state's diversity and striving to treat everyone with the respect and dignity they deserve."

The justices' 5-4 ruling was not met with universal acceptance among Michigan officials, however. State Rep. Gary Glenn, R-Midland, a co-author of the Michigan ban that was voided Friday, blasted the decision and said it would infringe on the religious freedom of institutions and believers who oppose same-sex marriage.

"Americans of good faith who believe that marriage is between one man and one woman are already routinely vilified and threatened with loss of livelihood and liberty," Glenn said.

"As a citizen and elected lawmaker, I will fight to protect the religious freedom of individuals, churches, and faith-based schools and other institutions to practice their faith without discrimination or penalty, including the freedom to believe, teach, and act on the conviction that — contrary to the opinion of five unelected lawyers — marriage is and always will be only between one man and one woman."