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Gay marriage case headed to trial

Michigan Radio
Beth and Lisa Bashert

Updated 5:35 p.m.

After federal judge Bernard Friedman ordered a trial on the constitutionality of Michigan's ban on gay marriage, attorney Jay Kaplan called the delay a disappointment. 

Kaplan is an attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union’s LGBT Project.  He says going to trial could work out better in the long run.

"He’s being cautious," Kaplan says of Friedman.  "Because if he renders a good decision, you don’t want to see that decision reversed by the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals, and having a factual record strengthens your opinion.”

But there were many tears among the crowd that gathered at the Washtenaw County Administration Building.

Beth Bashert  had hoped to marry her life partner Lisa Bashert.  The couple have been together for 25 years, and they raised two children together.  Bashert says she refuses to get married in a different state that does recognize marriages between same-sex people.

"I'm not going to another state to get married," says Bashert. "It's Michigan's job.  It's my home, it's their job to give my rights and responsibilities."

Some of the couples brought their children, hoping to share the "big day" with them.  Peter Ways and Joe Breakey have been together for 23 years. Their 11-year old daughter is Eliza Breakey-Ways.

"You know, we're a solid family," says Breakey, "and we're based from love, and marriage should be something that's available to all of us."



There are lots of disappointed couples at county clerks' offices today.

Same-sex couples and gay rights advocates were hoping U.S. District Judge Bernard Friedman would issue a ruling today overturning Michigan's gay marriage ban. Some of them lined up at clerks' offices in hopes there would be a small window during which they could marry.

Instead, Friedman issued a ruling at a hearing in Detroit today saying a trial will begin in February. He declined to issue an order for summary judgment to uphold or strike down the amendment.

Check back for more updates. Michigan Public Radio's Rick Pluta is at the federal courthouse and will have details.

Sarah Hulett is Michigan Public's Director of Amplify & Longform, helping reporters to do their best work.
Tracy Samilton covers energy and transportation, including the auto industry and the business response to climate change for Michigan Public. She began her career at Michigan Public as an intern, where she was promptly “bitten by the radio bug,” and never recovered.
Rick Pluta is Senior Capitol Correspondent for the Michigan Public Radio Network. He has been covering Michigan’s Capitol, government, and politics since 1987.