Michigan Wins Delay of Gay Marriage Ruling Pending Appeal

Michigan won its bid to continue enforcing a ban on gay marriages while it appeals a federal judge’s ruling that the prohibition is unconstitutional.

A U.S. Court of Appeals panel in Cincinnati yesterday voted 2-1 to put on hold last week’s decision by U.S. District Judge Bernard A. Friedman in Detroit, which made Michigan the 21st state where same-sex unions were deemed legal. The majority cited a U.S. Supreme Court order in January that froze a court ruling invalidating Utah’s same-sex marriage ban during an appeal.

“In light of the Supreme Court’s issuance of a stay in a similar case,” the appellate judges said, “a stay of the district court’s order is warranted.”

Rulings that struck down comparable laws in Virginia and Oklahoma are also delayed pending appeal. The U.S. Court of Appeals in Denver is scheduled to hear argument on the Utah and Oklahoma cases on April 10. A federal appeals panel in Virginia will consider the ruling upending that state’s ban.

One or more of those cases may ultimately be reviewed by the Supreme Court.

Friedman, in his March 21 decision, said Michigan’s voter-enacted 2004 constitutional prohibition violated federal constitutional guarantees of equal protection. His ruling followed a two-week non-jury trial in a case brought by two nurses, Jayne Rowse and April DeBoer.

State Attorney General Bill Schuette, a Republican who has argued that the ban reflected the will of the citizenry, filed a notice the same day that he would appeal the decision and also requested the delay in enforcing it.

The case is DeBoer v. Snyder, 14-1341, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit (Cincinnati).

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