gay adoption

A federal judge is weighing whether to allow faith-based adoption agencies to keep turning away LGBTQ potential parents while an underlying lawsuit plays out.

The state attorney general’s new policy about faith-based adoption agencies will be up for debate in federal court.

Controversial adoption on its way to Governor Rick Snyder would allow faith-based adoption agencies that take public money to refuse to work with same-sex couples. That’s even if the US Supreme Court legalizes same-sex marriage.

The legislation says adoption agencies that take public funds can turn away prospective clients based on a religious objection. That pretty much mirrors the existing state policy.

Legislation that would allow faith-based adoption agencies to refuse to work with LGBT couples or anyone else based on moral or religious grounds is headed to the floor of the state House.

Lawmakers could again consider legislation that would protect faith-based adoption agencies. The bills would shield agencies that refuse to place children with particular families for religious reasons.

Every Democrat in the state House voted against two similar bills last year before they died in the Senate. But one of those Democrats says he has changed his mind on the issue and is now sponsoring one of the bills.

Bans on same-sex marriage in Michigan, Ohio, Kentucky and Tennessee were confirmed by a federal court Thursday, in a ruling that provides yet another shift in the legal fight over the issue.

The 2-1 decision handed down by the Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit comes after the four states had argued this summer that their voters had the authority to decide whether to ban marriage between a same-sex couple.

Rick Pluta / Michigan Public Radio Network

  The future of Michigan’s ban on same-sex marriage is in the hands of a federal appeals court. Michigan was one of four states before the Sixth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals in Cincinnati Wednesday, arguing to keep their bans in place.

If the Potter Stewart Federal Courthouse had a theater marquee, it might have proclaimed a full-fledged “Legalpalooza” with six cases from four states playing in one marathon session. Some people, about a half a dozen, even spent the night outside the courthouse in hopes of getting a seat to the show.

Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette has filed a brief with a federal appeals court seeking to overturn a judge’s decision to strike down the state’s ban on same-sex marriage. In the filing, Schuette says the case is about voters’ rights, not the right of same-sex couples to get married.

Jake Neher

The ACLU of Michigan is suing the state to force it to recognize the marriages of about 300 same-sex couples who got married last month.

Clint McCormack and Bryan Reamer are one of eight couples named as plaintiffs in the lawsuit, which was filed Monday.

State Attorney General Bill Schuette has asked a federal appeals court to act very quickly to hear arguments and decide the legal challenge to Michigan’s ban on same-sex marriage. The attorney general wants to skip arguments before a three-judge panel of the U.S. Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals. Instead, he wants the case to go directly to the full court of 15 active judges.

“We just want to cut to the chase,” Schuette says. “The sooner we can have a more thoughtful and complete and full review of this case, I think the better for the citizens of the state of Michigan.”

UPDATED: 6:00pm

The federal government will recognize the marriages of 300 gay and lesbian couples performed last weekend in Michigan before more weddings were blocked by an appeals court. That means they will be able file joint federal tax returns and share federal government benefits.

Some congressional Democrats are putting pressure on Michigan to recognize more than 300 same-sex marriages performed last weekend. They sent a letter today asking US Attorney General Eric Holder to grant federal recognition of the marriages.

Governor Rick Snyder says more than 300 same-sex marriages that took place over the weekend in Michigan are legal. But he says those couples won’t be formally recognized or offered the benefits of being married until after the appeals are resolved.

Elenah Neshcuet/Flickr

UPDATED 9:25pm There will be no more same-sex marriage licenses issued in Michigan as litigation works its way through the U.S. Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals. The court said Tuesday it will not lift its order for a stay. But it did agree to an expedited schedule to hear the case. This casts continued doubt on the legal status of more than 300 marriages of gay and lesbian couples that took place over the weekend. 

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

U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder has been asked to declare that the federal government will recognize same-sex marriages performed in Michigan over the weekend, even if the state won’t.

Governor Rick Snyder’s administration is waiting for more legal guidance or a court decision before the state will recognize roughly 300 same-sex marriages performed Saturday – before that was halted by a temporary stay from the US Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals.

On Friday, March 21, U.S. District Court Judge Bernard Friedman struck down Michigan's ban on same-sex marriage.

The next day, clerks in Ingham, Washtenaw, Oakland and Muskegon counties opened their doors to issue marriage licenses. More than 300 people were pronounced man and husband, or woman and wife, before 5 p.m. Then a stay was issued by the U.S. Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals, which forced clerks to cease marrying gay couples.

Elenah Neshcuet/Flickr

More than 300 newly married same-sex couples in Michigan are wondering how their legal status will play out this week. On Saturday, four county clerks issued marriage licenses after a federal judge in Detroit struck down Michigan’s same-sex marriage ban. But now, the U.S. Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals has temporarily reinstated the ban at least until Wednesday.

Jean Dukarski and her spouse Kathy Leacock were among those who got married over the weekend. Dukarski says they can wait a little longer to see what happens.

Saying that it wants "to allow a more reasoned consideration of the motion to stay," the U.S. Appeals Court for the Sixth Circuit on Saturday effectively hit the pause button on same-sex marriages in Michigan.

Friday, as we reported, a federal judge struck down the state's ban on same-sex marriages.

But late Saturday afternoon, the appeals court weighed in. It said the lower court's decision "is temporarily stayed until Wednesday."

Elenah Neshcuet/Flickr

UPDATE 5:45 pm: Our Capitol Bureau chief reports the 6th Circuit has now issued a stay in the same-sex marriage case until Wednesday. That basically stops counties from issuing more marriage licenses until at least that time. The ruling is a change from signals earlier in the day.

A federal judge has struck down Michigan's ban on same-sex marriage, making the state the latest to see such a prohibition overturned on constitutional grounds.

The Associated Press reports:

"[U.S. District] Judge Bernard Friedman ruled Friday, two weeks after a trial. Two Detroit-area nurses who've been partners for eight years claimed the ban violated their rights under the U.S. Constitution.

"It was not clear if gay marriages could begin immediately."

A decision on the legal challenge to Michigan’s ban on same-sex marriage is expected in two weeks or less. The trial wrapped up Friday with closing arguments at the federal court in Detroit. A lesbian couple that brought the suit argues the same-sex marriage ban that was approved by voters in 2004 violates their children’s equal protection rights. An emotional April DeBoer says she and her partner want to get married so they can both adopt the special needs kids they’re raising together.

Jake Neher / Michigan Public Radio Network

The state’s defense of Michigan’s same-sex marriage ban got off to a rocky start Monday.

Federal Judge Bernard Friedman tossed out the state’s first witness in the case. He said Yale law student Sherif Girgis did not qualify as an expert witness. The plaintiffs’ attorneys pointed to the fact that Girgis is still a student, and said he would only be expressing his opinion on gay marriage – not actual evidence.

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A federal judge in Detroit is going to take more time to decide whether to uphold or strike down Michigan’s ban on same-sex marriage. Judge Bernard Friedman set a February trial date to get expert testimony.

The further delay was a disappointment to gay marriage supporters, who’d hoped for a decision Wednesday. There were same-sex couples lined up at some county clerks’ offices anticipating a decision in their favor.

A federal judge is allowing a legal challenge to Michigan adoption laws and its ban on same-sex marriage to go forward. The judge turned down the state’s request to dismiss the lawsuit.

In a written order, Judge Bernard Friedman says the U.S. Supreme Court decision last week striking down the federal Defense of Marriage Act has left unanswered questions that could be addressed by this case.