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Michigan gay couples prepare for "I do," if federal court decision allows

Paul Sancya
Associated Press
DeBoer/Rowse family

County clerks are preparing for a deluge of marriage license applications from gay people late this afternoon, should U.S. District Court judge Bernard Friedman issue a ruling that would allow same-sex people to marry.

But the brides and grooms-to be could be disappointed.

Even if Friedman's opinion strikes down Michigan's gay marriage ban, it may also include an immediate stay.  That would permit Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette to file an appeal with the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati.   Schuette is defending the state law that allows only a woman and a man to marry.

The case was filed by a Hazel Park couple, April DeBoer and Jayne Rowse, who initially challenged the state law that limits adoption to individuals, and jointly to married couples.  That meant the two women could not jointly adopt their children.

But on Friedman's suggestion, the couple's attorneys amended their complaint, including a challenge to the same-sex marriage ban.

Lawrence Kestenbaum is Washtenaw County Clerk.  He figures Friedman's ruling, if it does overturn the ban on gay marriage, will also include an immediate stay.

But he has prepared a gender-neutral marriage license application just in case - and he'll be waiving the usual $50 fee for people who want to get married the same day they get their license.  The fee will be waived whether the applications are from straight or gay couples.

Kestenbaum says more than a hundred couples may show up this afternoon to await the ruling in front of the Washtenaw County Administration Building in Ann Arbor.  Dozens of supportive clergy are also expected, ready to tie the knot between couples then and there.

Kestenbaum says clerks from at least ten other counties, including Oakland, Ingham, Tuscola and Delta, are also ready to issue marriage licenses to gay people today. 

The hearing is at 2:30.  Friedman will allow both sides 45 minutes to make final arguments, after which he could issue his ruling.

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.
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