Michigan waits on marriage decision

Apr 29, 2015

Michigan is now waiting for the U.S. Supreme Court to make its decision on same-sex marriage bans like the one adopted by voters 11 years ago.

Thousands of demonstrators for and against same-sex marriage pressed up to the steps of the Supreme Court and cheered and jeered as the litigants emerged.

The state of Michigan says it’s an issue for voters to decide. The challengers says there’s no reason for Michigan and other states to deny same-sex couples the right to marry.

April DeBoer says she’s optimistic the court will allow her to marry her partner, Jayne Rowse.

Jayne Rowse and April DeBoer brought suit four years ago in Detroit federal court.
Credit Rick Pluta

“We’ve already made history and we could possibly be making some more history come June.”

DeBoer and Rowse attended the arguments – the culmination of their challenge to Michigan’s same-sex marriage ban, which morphed into a challenge to every same-sex marriage ban in the country.    

Rowse told a group of supporters that the couple is optimistic and looking ahead.

“April and I do not have plans at the moment, so if there are wedding planners – anyone who wants to put some food together…”

And then one of their attorneys, Dana Nessell, got up to speak, but addressed her live-in companion.

“Alana McGuire, if five out of the nine justices of the Supreme Court agree, will you be applicant number two for a state of Michigan marriage license?”

“Yes, I will,” replied McGuire.

There are also 300 already-married same-sex couples in Michigan who are waiting to see how the Supreme Court will rule on their relationships. They were married during the one-day window last year when it was legal in the state.

John Bursch is the former Michigan solicitor general who argued the state’s case. He is also feeling optimistic. He says the justices seemed open to his argument that the case is not about marriage, but how the country will handle changing attitudes on the subject. He says people can disagree on what marriage is or ought to be.

“That’s not animus,” he said. “That’s not wishing ill on anybody. But it’s something that we should all sit down on and dialogue on further.” 

Which is what the Supreme Court justices will now do until they come up with a decision, expected in late June.