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Appeals court keeps stay on Michigan same-sex marriages in place

Michigan Radio

The U.S. Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals has extended the freeze on same-sex marriages in Michigan. The court granted the state’s request to put a hold on last week’s decision that struck down Michigan’s same-sex marriage ban as unconstitutional.      

The panel’s 2-1 ruling continues the legal limbo of more than 300 gay and lesbian couples who were married during the weekend window before the door was closed.

Four county clerks opened their doors over the weekend to issue marriage licenses before they were stopped by the Sixth Circuit.      

Washtenaw County Clerk Larry Kestenbaum says he’d like to start issuing marriage licenses again.

“Many of the people who came to my office on Saturday were people who had been living together for years or decades,” he said. “It was long overdue that those marriages be recognized.”

The state position is it’s best to preserve the status quo and not allow same-sex marriages until the US Supreme Court settles the question.

“I’m going to let the United States Supreme Court make the final decision, but 2.7 million residents of Michigan made a decision, and voted for that marriage amendment,” said Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette. “And I think it should stand and I’m going to respect that. Now, if the Supreme Court makes a different decision, I’ll honor that.”

Schuette says the sooner the U.S. Supreme Court decides whether same-sex marriage bans are constitutional, the better.

“Bill Schuette and Governor Snyder know they are hurting people. They know the people that are being hurt,” said Emily Dievendorf with Equality Michigan. She says it’s time to let more marriages go forward.

Attorneys trying to overturn the ban said in their briefs that delaying marriage rights to same-sex couples hurts families and kids in foster care who might be adopted by gay and lesbian couples. 

Rick Pluta is Senior Capitol Correspondent for the Michigan Public Radio Network. He has been covering Michigan’s Capitol, government, and politics since 1987.
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