Marriage Equality USA

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State of Michigan
All in this Region

Current Status

  • Civil marriage equality is legal at the state level, via the Supreme Court of the United States, as of 26 June 2015. (Same-sex couples have the legal right to marry.)
  • On 26 June 2015, the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) ruled FOR marriage equality and that same-gender couples have the constitutional right to marry in all 50 states and all U.S. territories.
  • Marriage equality recognized by the Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians as of 15 March 2013.
  • The Pokagon Band of Potawatomi Indians recognize marriage equality as of 8 May 2013.

HISTORICAL PERSPECTIVE

  • Since 1992, sexual orientation is recognized for data collection about hate crimes in Michigan.
  • In 2003, Governor Jennifer Granholm issued an executive order prohibiting employment discrimination state-level public sector employment on the basis of sexual orientation. The order only covers employees of the State of Michigan and does not cover public sector employees of county, school, or local-level governments. In November 2007, Governor Granholm extended her executive order to include gender identity.
  • Constitutional ban against same-sex marriage and civil unions from 2004 until 26 June 2015, per State Proposal 04-2.
  • On 21 March 2014 U.S. District Judge Bernard Friedman ruled that Michigan's ban on marriage equality is unconstitutional. His ruling was stayed pending appeal in the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals.
  • More than 300 same-sex couples were married in Michigan on 22 March 2014, following Judge Friedman's ruling that the MI ban on marriage equality is unconstitutional. Unfortunately, the stay against enforcement of the ruling was issued late that same day.
  • On 28 March 2013, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder announced that the US federal government would recognize the same-sex marriages performed on 22 March 2014.
  • On 21 March 2014 U.S. District Judge Bernard Friedman ruled that Michigan's ban on marriage equality is unconstitutional. His ruling was stayed pending appeal in the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals.
  • On 6 November 2014, the 6th Circuit ruled reversing the lower court's ruling and upholding the state ban on marriage equality.
  • 19 December 2014, from the ACLU re: proposed license to discriminate legislation in Michigan: "We did it! Together, we stopped the so-called Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA). Thousands of Michiganders spoke out against the 'license to discriminate' legislation, flooding Lansing with letters and voicemails..." "As the lame duck session of 2014 came to a close last night, members of the Senate did not take a vote on this dangerous legislation, which would have allowed individuals to use their religious beliefs as a justification to discriminate or cause harm to others. That means the legislation will not advance in the 2014 legislative session."
  • 23 December 2014, Mich. won’t appeal ruling that overturned ban on domestic partner benefits - AP via LGBTQNation
  • 16 January 2015, the 6th Circuit Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio, and Tennessee marriage cases all were accepted by SCOTUS for review! Oral argument took place on 28 April 2015; a ruling was issued 26 June 2015. See DeBoer v. Synder.
  • 26 June 2015, the Supreme Court of the United States issued their decision in Obergefell, the marriage case, ruling on the side of love and marriage! Majority opinion by Justice Kennedy, 5-4. Per @SCOTUSblog, the Court's opinion relies on the dual rationales of fundamental rights AND equal protection and seems to go out of its way not to state a standard of scrutiny. "...the majority opinion rejects the claim that marriage is about procreation, even while saying that protecting children of same-sex couples supports the Court's ruling: "This is not to say that the right to marry is less meaningful for those who do not or cannot have children. An ability, desire, or promise to procreate is not and has not been a prerequisite for a valid marriage in any State."

Legislation - Pending

SB4 - Michigan Religious Freedom Restoration Act (MiRFRA)

Author/Sponsor: Senator Mike Shirkey (R-Clark Lake)
Date Introduced: 20 January 2015

Description:

  • 20 January 2015, this is another piece of so-called "religious freedom" legislation, which is really a way to provide license to discriminate, being re-introduced for the current legislative session. The legislation was introduced and then referred to the Committee on Judiciary.
  • According to Michigan's PRIDESOURCE, MiRFRA was originally introduced by former Speaker of the House Jase Bolger (R-Marshall) as a "balance" to legislative activity to amend the state's civil rights law to include sexual orientation and gender identity as protected classes. While the move to amend the Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act (ELCRA) failed, Bolger was undeterred and pushed his MiRFRA legislation through the House. It died in the Senate at the end of the lame duck session in 2014.

 

 
 

Legislation - Enacted

HB4188, HB4189 and HB4190 - All 3 bills relate to the adoption and licensure of child placing agencies that object to placements on religious or moral grounds

Date Enacted: 11 June 2015 - All 3 bills were signed into law by Governor Rick Snyder.

Description:

  • All 3 bills amend the MI social welfare act so that adoption and foster agencies do not have to place children with gay and lesbian parents/families if they claim that they have so-called religious objections to doing so.
  • The bills allow taxpayer funded adoption agencies to discriminate against LGBT people. 
  • Currently, adoption agencies receive about $10 million annually via state and federal funds. On any given day in Michigan, about 14,000 children are in foster care, according to Equality Michigan.
The Religious Freedom Restoration Act

Author/Sponsor: Representative Jase Bolger
Date Introduced: 13 November 2014
Date Enacted: 4 December 2014

Description:

  • A bill to limit governmental action that substantially burdens a person's exercise of religion; to set forth legislative findings; to provide for asserting a burden on exercise of religion as a claim or defense in any judicial or administrative proceeding; and to provide remedies.
  • This bill is what is commonly referred to as a "license to discriminate" bill. This bill is very similar to the one that made nationwide headlines in Arizona, which was vetoed by Gov. Jan Brewer. The bill appears to merely force the government to step aside if a person's "deeply-held religious beliefs" mandate they act, or not act, in a certain manner.
  • From David Badash at The New Civil Rights Movement: "Supporters of these bills claim they allow people of faith to exercise their religion without government interference, but in reality, they are trojan horses, allowing rampant discrimination under the guise of religious observance."

Lawsuits - Pending

Morgan v. Snyder

Case #: 1:14-cv-00632
Court Level: Federal District Court 
Date Filed: 11 June 2014
Date of Appeal:

Description:

  • 11 June 2014, a Michigan couple filed suit seeking recognition of their New York marriage. The case was assigned to Judge Gordon J. Quist. 
  • 14 Jul,y 2014, defendant Snyder filed a motion to stay this case pending a 6th Circuit decision in the Michigan marriage case DeBoer v. Snyder (see the last case listed below).
  • 11 August 2014, Judge Quist granted the stay.  
  • 2 December 2014, the judge issued an Order to Show Cause why the case should not continue to be stayed until the United States Supreme Court reaches a decision on the 6th Circuit decisions. Responses due by 16 December 201.4
  • 9 December 2014, defendant Kent County Clerk supports a continued stay.
  • 16 December 2014, the plaintiffs filed their opposition to a continued stay, saying they are entitled to recognition of their marriage regardless of the decision in DeBoer
  • 16 December 2014, defendant Governor Snyder supports a continued stay.
  • 23 December 2014, the court issued an Order: "Stay entered on August 11, 2014 shall remain in effect pending further order of this Court."
  • 16 April 2015, Gov. Synder filed his oppostion to lifting the stay, brain cancer or no. Outrageous and disgusting!
  • 20 April 2015, Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder Opposes Recognizing Marriage Of Terminally Ill Gay Man - By Carlos Santoscoy, OnTop Magazine.
  • 21 April 2015, an order was filed denying the plaintiffs' motion to lift the stay. "While the Court is not unsympathetic to Plaintiffs’ circumstances in light of Plaintiff Morgan’s health status, the Court is nonetheless bound by the Sixth Circuit’s decision in DeBoer, which directly controls Plaintiffs’ claims and remains valid." ... "Therefore,"IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that Plaintiffs’ Motion to Lift Stay and to Enter Judgment in Favor of Plaintiffs Pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56 (dkt. # 32) is DENIED. "The stay shall remain in effect."
Blankenship v. Snyder

Case #: 2:2014cv12221
Court Level: Federal District Court (6th)
Date Filed: 5 June 2014
Date of Appeal:

Description:

  • This case seeks recognition of a same-sex couple’s (Erin Dawn Blankenship and Shayla Blankenship) out-of-state marriage.
  • 10 February 2015, an Order was issued staying the case pending a U.S. Supreme Court decision in the marriage cases and terminating the pending motion to dismiss without prejudice (this can be refiled or reactivated later).  This administratively closes this case. NOTE: An administrative closure takes the case off the active docket without reaching a final determination. The case can be reactivated at a later date by request of a party or by action of the Court on its own.
Theresa Bassett, et al., v. MI Governor Richard Snyder

Case #: 2:12-cv-10038
Court Level: Federal District Court (6th)
Date Filed: 28 June 2013
Date of Appeal:

Description:

  • Five same-gender couples challenged the constitutionality of MI’s Public Act 297 which denies fringe benefits to same-gender partners of government employees.
  • 28 June 2013, a federal judge issued an injunction against the law prohibiting partner benefits
  • 11 April 2014 the defendants moved to suspend the case until a final decision is made in DeBoer. The case was on hold.
  • struck down the Michigan law as violating the 14th Amendment. NOTE: This case involves Domestic Partner benefits, not marriage.

Lawsuits - Resolved

DeBoer v. Snyder

Case #: 14-571 (SCOTUS); 14-1341 (6th Circuit)
Court Level: 6th Circuit Court of Appeals
Date Filed: 23 January 2012
Date of Ruling: 26 June 2015

Description:

  • 23 January 2012, a lesbian couple went to federal court to challenge MI laws that deny adoption to certified foster parents when they are not married.
  • 7 September 2012, as suggested by the judge, they amended their suit to challenge the constitutionality of the state’s 2004 ban on same-gender marriage, civil union, domestic partnership, and joint adoption.
  • 19 February 2013, Oakland County, MI clerk Lisa Brown withdrew her request to dismiss the lawsuit, saying that she agrees with the plaintiffs and wants their suit to succeed.
  • 7 March 2013, a U.S. District judge heard arguments challenging the constitutionality of the state same-gender marriage ban, and heard the state’s request to dismiss the suit. The judge decided not to dismiss, and to postpone making a ruling until after the U.S. Supreme Court decided two other marriage-related cases about the DOMA and California Proposition 8.
  • 1 July 2013, the court denied state’s request to dismiss the suit.
  • 16 October 2013, U.S. District Court Judge Bernard Friedman denied both sides’ petitions for summary judgment, saying that he would expedite completion of the case and would begin on 25 February 2014.
  • 15 November 2013, the state confirmed that sociology Associate Professor Mark Regnerus and three other witnesses will testify that: children of same-gender parents are less successful than children of mixed-gender parents, that lesbian parents produce violent boys, that children raised by same-gender couples are 35% less likely to progress normally in school, and that there is no scientific evidence showing that children of same-gender parents do as well as children of mixed-gender parents.
  • 24 November 2013, the plaintiffs asked that their trial be split into 2 parts: (1) constitutionality of marriage/adoption laws; and (2) deciding what scrutiny level is required when judging laws that discriminate based on sexual orientation (whether they are politically powerless, whether they have immutable characteristics, whether they contribute to society).
  • 3 January 2014, the judge granted the plaintiffs’ request to split the trial into 2 parts.
  • 15 January 2014, lawyers from ACLU and GLAD joined the plaintiff legal team.
  • 6 February 2014, the plaintiffs sought to ban the testimony of sociology professor Mark Regnerus because his flawed methods, rejection by peers, lack of qualifications, unreliability, irrelevance don’t meet the minimum requirements for federal evidence.
  • Trial was held from 25 February through 7 March 2014.
  • 21 March 2014, the court ruled: (1) overturned the law and the state constitutional amendment that banned same-gender civil marriage in MI, (2) said that MI testimony calling same-gender parents inferior was "entirely unbelievable and not worthy of serious consideration," and (3) said that no available science contradicts the consensus that same-gender and mixed-gender couples are equally good at parenting.
  • 21 March 2014, the state filed an appeal and request for a stay with the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals.
  • 22 March 2014, officials in at least 5 counties married over 323 county-resident, same-gender couples until 5:00 p.m., when the 6th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals issued a temporary stay, effective through 26 March 2014.
  • 25 March 2014, the 6th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals stayed the district court ruling pending the outcome of the MI appeal.
  • 28 March 2014, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder confirmed that the federal government is recognizing the 322 same-gender civil marriages performed in MI between the time that the MI marriage ban was ruled unconstitutional and the time that MI appealed that ruling, even though MI is ignoring those same marriages.
  • 4 April 2014 the state requested that the case be heard en banc. 28 April the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals denied the state's request for an initial hearing en banc.
  • 7 May 2014 Attorney General Bill Schuette filed a brief suggesting judges come to the same finding as the U.S. Supreme Court on Michigan's affirmative action ban and uphold the state's 2004 voter-approved ban on marriage equality.
  • 29 May 2014 the plaintiffs filed a motion for Preliminary Injunction so that marriages performed before the stay would be recognized.
  • 16 June 2014 was the deadline for Amicus Briefs.
  • 16 June 2014, the 6th Circuit set 6 August 2014, as the date argument will be heard. This case is scheduled for 10:00 a.m.
  • 6 August 2014, the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals heard oral argument. Access audio of argument.
  • On 6 November 2014, the 6th Circuit ruled reversing the lower court's ruling and upholding the state ban on marriage equality.
  • 7 November 2014, Analysis: Paths to same-sex marriage review - By Lyle Denniston, SCOTUSblog
  • 7 November 2014, couples from the Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio, and Tennessee marriage cases all will be seeking SCOTUS review.
  • 17 November 2014, the Michigan plaintiffs filed their Petition for Writ of Certiorari with the Supreme Court, seeking reversal of 6th Circuit decision. Note that GLAD (Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders)'s Mary Bonauto has joined the legal team.
  • 9 December 2014, the Eagle Forum filed an amicus brief asking that if the Court takes the case it includes the following question: "Whether a 'domestic-relations exception' to federal jurisdiction deprived the lower federal courts of subject-matter jurisdiction over this litigation?"
  • 23 December 2014, all of the the 6th Circuit marriage cases - Michigan, Kentucky, Ohio, and Tennessee - are scheduled for the 9 January 2014 Supreme Court Conference. Also on the list for this conference (previously reported) is the petition for cert before judgment in the Louisiana case. Michigan: http://1.usa.gov/1yl0aFh
  • 9 January 2015, per Lyle Denniston of SCOTUSblog, the Court did not grant cert to (take for review) any new cases today. (See the 2nd through 5th cases listed in this article.) The orders that were issued today were routine. New orders will be released on Monday, 12 January 2015.
  • 12 January 2015, SCOTUS issued orders denying cert to Louisiana's Robicheaux before the 5th Circuit rules, but took no action on the cases from the 6th Circuit. Orders list. UPDATE: The Court has officially listed all four 6th Circuit marriage cases for consideration at their conference on Friday, 16 January 2015.
  • 16 January 2015, SCOTUS has spoken! All four 6th Circuit marriage cases are granted including this one. Briefing will be completed April 17, which means oral argument most likely the last week in April.
  • You can follow the marriage cases at SCOTUS on our National page under LAWSUITS-PENDING.
  • 27 February 2015, plaintiffs' brief submitted to SCOTUS.
  • 17 March 2015, Petitioners (plaintiffs) in the Supreme Court marriage cases made a formal request for divided argument time.
  • 27 March 2015, Michigan's brief submitted to SCOTUS.
  • 31 March 2015, famous GLAD attorney Mary L. Bonauto will represent the team making the oral arguments for DeBoer v. Snyder before the U.S. Supreme Court on 28 April 2015. More information about the case, or to contribute.  Mary's full bioDownload b-roll or photo of April DeBoer, Jayne Rowse, and family.
  • 28 April 2015, transcript and audio from SCOTUS arguments in Obergefell v. Hodges Question 2
  • 28 April 2015, Transcript and audio from SCOTUS arguments in Obergefell v. Hodges Question 1
  • 26 June 2015, WE WON! LOVE WON! Majority opinion by Justice Kennedy, 6-3. Per @SCOTUSblog, the Court's opinion relies on the dual rationales of fundamental rights AND equal protection and seems to go out of its way not to state a standard of scrutiny.  "...the majority opinion rejects the claim that marriage is about procreation, even while saying that protecting children of same-sex couples supports the Court's ruling: "This is not to say that the right to marry is less meaningful for those who do not or cannot have children. An ability, desire, or promise to procreate is not and has not been a prerequisite for a valid marriage in any State." READ THE RULING
  • 26 June 2015, live as of 2:00pm ET on June 26: Marriage Equality Facts
  • 25 July 2015, the plaintiffs' Attorneys filed for attorney fees in the amount of $1,927,450 and "all other relief to which they may be entitled."
    The motion specifies that plaintiffs are not seeking reimbursement for the taxable expenses incurred "for the reason that plaintiffs’ counsel have born those expenses themselves through their fundraising efforts."
  • 28 July 2015, SCOTUS issued Judgment in the 6th Circuit cases (Obergefell).
    "THESE CAUSES came on to be heard on the transcript of the record from the above court and were argued by counsel.
    "ON CONSIDERATION WHEREOF, it is ordered and adjudged by Court that the judgment of the above court are reversed with costs."
  • Details of this case at SCOTUS are posted as Obergefell on our National page under LAWSUITS-RESOLVED.
Caspar v. Snyder

Case #: 4:14-cv-11499
Court Level: Federal District Court (6th)
Date Filed: 14 April 2014
Case Resolved: 24 February 2015

Description:

Ballot Initiatives - Pending

Michigan Same-Sex Marriage Amendment 2014 (House Joint Resolution V)

Type & Purpose of Ballot Measure: Legislatively-referred constitutional amendment to define marriage in Michigan as between two people regardless of gender or sex and to recognize same-sex marriages.
Date:
Proposed/Sponsored By: Rep. Sam Singh (D-69), Rep. Rose Mary Robinson (D-4), Rep. David Knezek (D-11), Rep. Douglas A. Geiss (D-12), Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-12), Rep. Sarah Roberts (D-18), Rep. Dian Slavens (D-21), Rep. Jim Townsend (D-26), Rep. Ellen Cogen Lipton (D-27), Rep. Jon Switalski (D-28), Rep. Tim Greimel (D-29), Rep. Rudy Hobbs (D-35), Rep. Vicki Barnett (D-37), Rep. Pam Faris (D-48), Rep. Jeff Irwin (D-53), Rep. Adam Zemke (D-55), Rep. Sean McCann (D-60), Rep. Kate Segal (D-62), Rep. Andy Schor (D-68), Rep. Brandon Dillon (D-75), and Rep. Marcia Hovey-Wright (D-92)

Summary:

  • The measure, upon voter approval, would remove the definition of marriage as between one man and one woman from the constitution, thus defining marriage as between two people regardless of gender or sex and recognizing same-sex marriages.
  • A verbatim joint amendment was introduced into the Michigan Senate as Senate Joint Resolution W. The sponsors of Senate Joint Resolution W are: Sen. Rebekah Warren (D-18), Sen. Gretchen Whitmer (D-23), Sen. Virgil Smith (D-4), Sen. Glenn Anderson (D-6), Sen. Hoon-Yung Hopgood (D-8), Sen. Vincent Gregory (D-14), Sen. Steven Bieda (D-9), Sen. Jim Ananich (D-27), Sen. Bert Johnson (D-2), and Sen. Coleman Young II (D-1)
Michigan Same-Sex Marriage Amendment (2016)

Type & Purpose of Ballot Measure: An initiated constitutional amendment. The measure, upon voter approval, would legalize same-sex marriage in Michigan.
Date:
Proposed/Sponsored By:

Summary:

  • The Michigan Same-Sex Marriage Amendment may appear on the November 8, 2016 ballot in Michigan as an initiated constitutional amendment. The measure, upon voter approval, would legalize same-sex marriage in Michigan.
  • Supporters call the measure the Michigan for Marriage Initiative.
  • The ballot measure campaign was initiated to overturn a previous measure, Proposal 2 of 2004. A favorable court ruling, however, would cause same-sex marriage proponents to end their initiative campaign.

Ballot Initiatives - Passed

Michigan Marriage Initiative

Purpose of Ballot Measure: An initiated constitutional amendment to define marriage as the union of one man and one woman
Date Passed: 2 November 2004

Summary:

  • The Michigan Marriage Initiative, also known as Proposal 2, was on the November 2004 ballot in Michigan as an initiated constitutional amendment, where it was approved. The measure stated that the union of one man and one woman in marriage would be the only agreement recognized as a marriage or similar union for any purpose.
  • 21 March 2014 U.S. District Judge Bernard Friedman ruled that Michigan's ban on marriage equality is unconstitutional, which would nullify this measure/the amendment, however, his ruling is stayed pending appeal

Polls

  • The results of a poll conducted 17-20 May 2014, exclusively for the Free Press, WXYZ-TV (Channel 7) and their statewide media polling partners by EPIC-MRA of Lansing, found that if a vote on allowing same-sex marriage were held then, 47% would vote yes and 46% would vote no. The remaining 7% were either undecided or refused to say. • News Source
  • The results of a Public Policy Poll released on 9 April 2014 showed that 49% of Michigan voters thought that the same-sex marriages performed in the state on 22 March 22 2014 should be recognized, while 44% thought they should not be recognized, and 7% were not sure. Poll Details
  • 28 February 2014, Michigan State University surveyed 1,008 residents on the right of same-sex couples to legally marry, and reported that 54% agreed, 36% disagreed, and 10% were undecided. News Source