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Michigan's definition of marriage upheld by court of appeals

The United States Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit upheld Michigan's definition of marriage.

In 2004, 59-percent of voters added the definition of marriage to the constitution.

April DeBoer and Jayne Rowse challenged the constitutionality of the definition in court because they wanted to be able to adopt each others' children.

In the majority decision, the judge wrote:

This case ultimately presents two ways to think about change. One is whether the Supreme Court will constitutionalize a new definition of marriage to meet new policy views about the issue. The other is whether the Court will begin to undertake a different form of change—change in the way we as a country optimize the handling of efforts to address requests for new civil liberties.

If the Court takes the first approach, it may resolve the issue for good and give the plaintiffs and many others relief. But we will never know what might have been. If the Court takes the second approach, is it not possible that the traditional arbiters of change—the people—will meet today's challenge admirably and settle the issue in a productive way? In just eleven years, nineteen States and a conspicuous District, accounting for nearly forty-five percent of the population, have exercised their sovereign powers to expand a definition of marriage that until recently was universally followed going back to the earliest days of human history. That is a difficult timeline to criticize as unworthy of further debate and voting. When the courts do not let the people resolve new social issues like this one, they perpetuate the idea that the heroes in these change events are judges and lawyers. Better in this instance, we think, to allow change through the customary political processes, in which the people, gay and straight alike, become the heroes of their own stories by meeting each other not as adversaries in a court system but as fellow citizens seeking to resolve a new social issue in a fair-minded way.

For these reasons, we reverse.
Michigan's Attorney General Bill Schuette issued the following statement:
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit has ruled, and Michigan's constitution remains in full effect,” said Schuette. “As I have stated repeatedly, the U.S. Supreme Court will have the final word on this issue. The sooner they rule, the better, for Michigan and the country.
Michigan Governor Rick Snyder issued the following statement:
When I became governor, I took an oath to support and defend our state constitution, without exceptions. My obligation to carry out that oath is not a matter of personal preference. As I have said throughout this process, I will respect the court's decision as it examines the legality of same-sex marriage.

The 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has upheld the language in our state's constitution. This means there is no change in Michigan's marriage laws. As I have previously stated, the same-sex couples who married at county clerk offices in the period between U.S. District Judge Bernard Friedman's ruling in March and the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals' temporary stay of that ruling, were legally married.

However, the Court of Appeals decision does not allow for state benefits of marriage for those same-sex couples in accordance with our state constitution. That decision only can be changed if today's Appeals Court ruling is overturned.


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