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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


  • 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:
  • 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


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