Michigan’s Gay Marriage Ban Overturned – State Count Now 18 With Marriage Equality 3/21/14

Michigan_seal U.S. District Judge Bernard Friedman has issued a preliminary injunction that declares Michigan’s 2004 constitutional amendment to ban same-gender marriage unconstitutional.  The judge did not grant a Michigan requested stay on his order, so marriages could commence as soon at Monday, when county clerk offices open.

This brings the number of US states with marriage equality to eighteen.  They are California, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Iowa, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Rhode Island, Vermont,  Washington, and Washington, D.C.  Utah’s order lifting it’s ban has been stayed pending appeal.

Federal Courts are now routinely finding that governments have no compelling reason to deny marriage equality to same-gender couples, and that states cannot accept some marriage licenses, but refuse to recognize others.  That, to me, is the crux of these court decisions.  If a state decides, like Washington, to legalize marriage equality (by popular vote in this case, since most arguments against court cases is that the voters approved the bans), other states cannot pick and choose which Washington licenses they will or will not recognize.  Article IV, Section 1 of the U.S. Constitution says states must recognize the “public acts, records, and judicial proceedings of every other state.”  You can’t accept marriage licenses from other states that were filed on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, and reject those from Tuesdays and Thursdays.  If the marriage is legal in the state where it was conducted, that license must be recognized as valid.  You also cannot vote, by the populace or the legislature, to deny equal protection of the law to any group without proving a “compelling” reason.  No court case so far presented, from California’s Proposition 8 till today’s Michigan ruling, any such reasons for marriage equality bans.  Those bans will continue to fall as they are challenged, and marriage equality will eventually be nationwide.

Wedding caterers take note, your’s is a growth industry!

UPDATE: 3/22/14

The 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals Saturday issued a stay on Friday’s decision, halting marriages in Michigan.  Several counties had opened their county clerk’s offices to conduct same-gender marriages, and dozens had been performed before the appeals court issued it’s stay.  The new order is in effect until “at least Wednesday”, said the court, to give it more time to consider the state’s appeal.

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