Pennye Mattson, right, places a wedding ring on Sherrie Tyler, left, while being married in a group by the Oakland County Clerk in Pontiac, Mich., March 22, 2014.
Paul Sancya/AP

Judge rules Michigan same-sex marriage ban unconstitutional


A federal judge ruled Friday that Michigan’s law banning same-sex marriage is unconstitutional.

The ruling comes two weeks after a trial challenging the marriage ban concluded. April DeBoer and Jayne Rowse, two Detroit-area nurses, challenged the state law that stopped them from adopting each other’s children. Their lawsuit also included a challenge to the state’s ban on same-sex marriage that Michigan voters adopted a decade ago.

On Saturday morning, the state’s first gay marriage took place, according to the Detroit Free Press, and marriage licenses were being issued in a handful of Michigan counties. A federal appeals court on the same day issued a stay on the state’s marriages until Wednesday.

The Ed Show, 3/21/14, 6:35 PM ET

Michigan’s same-sex marriage ban struck down

A federal judge ruled Michigan’s law against same-sex marriage is unconstitutional.
A federal judge ruled Michigan’s law against same-sex marriage is unconstitutional.
In his ruling, Judge Bernard Friedman said that Michigan, in defending the ban, had “lost sight of what this case is truly about: people. No court record of this proceeding could ever fully convey the personal sacrifice of these two plaintiffs who seek to ensure that the state may no longer impair the rights of their children and the thousands of others now being raised by same-sex couples.” 

Michigan voters approved the constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage in 2004 in a state-wide referendum. The Michigan Constitution also prohibited unmarried couples from joint adoption, forcing same-sex parents to choose one parent to have legal rights to the child.

The state of Michigan announced Friday its intent to appeal the judge’s ruling. “In 2004 the citizens of Michigan recognized that diversity in parenting is best for kids and families because moms and dads are not interchangeable. Michigan voters enshrined that decision in our state constitution, and their will should stand and be respected. I will continue to carry out my duty to protect and defend the Constitution,” said Bill Schuette, the state attorney general.

Friday’s ruling is the seventh court decision to follow the Supreme Court’s ruling last June that struck down part of the Defense of Marriage Act.