Plaintiff April Deboer celebrates after a Michigan federal judge ruled that a ban on same-sex marriage violates the U.S. Constitution and must be overturned, in Ferndale, Michigan March 21, 2014.
Rebecca Cook/Reuters

Federal judge strikes down Michigan’s gay-marriage ban

The winning streak for proponents of marriage equality continued this afternoon with another big court ruling, this time in Michigan.
In a historic ruling that provided a huge morale boost to the gay-rights movement, U.S. District Judge Bernard Friedman today struck down Michigan’s ban on same-sex marriage, making it the 18th state in the nation to allow gays and lesbians to join in matrimony, just like their heterosexual counterparts.
The state has long argued that it is, and that the will of 2.7 million voters – who in 2004 decided that marriage is only to be between a man and a woman – should not be drowned out by a single judge.
Of course, as the notion that majority rule should trump civil rights and access to basic human decency has never been a compelling argument, and it apparently came up short in this federal courtroom. Friedman sided with the plaintiffs – a lesbian couple raising three special-needs children. The family filed suit in January 2012, challenging Michigan’s anti-gay constitutional amendment, approved by state voters in 2004.
The state “lost sight of what this case is truly about: people,” the judge wrote. “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.”
So what happens now?
The state will very likely appeal today’s ruling to the 6th Circuit. But in the meantime, based on preliminary report, the district court ruling did not issue stay, leaving existing law in place while the appeals process continues.
If this is correct, same-sex couples in Michigan could, in theory, begin getting married immediately.
Today’s ruling follows on the heels of related victories in VirginiaKentucky, Oklahoma, Utah and Texas, just from the last few months.