During a pending appeal to ban legalization of same sex marriages in Michigan, a stay was granted, causing more than 100 same-sex couples to get married on Saturday. There is still the possibility that they could have their marriages fall into legal limbo, however, if the state refuses to recognize their marriage, according to an expert on federal law and the courts.
Several clerks and dozens of gay couples wasted little time acting on Judge Friedman’s ruling. County clerk offices are usually closed on weekends, but at least four of them were open on Saturday, including Ingham County, home to the state capital, Lansing.
The stay was issued by the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati, claiming it needed more time to consider the appeal issued by Michigan's attorney general wanting an annulment of the marriage ban by Judge Friedman, who found the ban unconstitutional.
Of those married, Jonnie Terry, 50, and Elizabeth Patten, 52, who have been together for 28 years, were the first to receive their marriage license in Ann Arbor on Saturday. At 9:11 am. From outside the office, hundreds of people cheered loudly in honor of the couple.
“It’s not how I envisioned my wedding, but we’re grateful,” Terry said.
The couple, along with several family members, made their way down to a stuffy basement room where Judge Judith Ellen Levy of the Federal District Court for Eastern Michigan, officiated at the couple’s wedding.
After they exchanged vows and rings, Judge Levy said, at 9:26 am, “I now pronounce you legally married,” and the room erupted in cheers.
“It feels just unbelievable,” Patten said. “We’ve been waiting for this for a lifetime.”
Witnessing same-sex marriages in Michigan will be “overwhelming and surreal and a bit of a tentative, bittersweet victory,” Emily Dievendorf, the executive director of Equality Michigan, said on Friday night. “We know that our attorney general does not support us and a lot of our elected leadership does not support us.”
In 2004, Michigan voters voted against same-sex marriage by 59 percent. The measure said “the union of one man and one woman in marriage shall be the only agreement recognized as a marriage or similar union for any purpose.”
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