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Tuesday, March 25,2014

Marriage limbo

Elected officials, advocates petition Schuette to drop same-sex marriage appeal

by RJ Wolcott
Emily Dievendorf, executive director of Equality Michigan, opens up the press conference by discussing the federal courtís Friday decision as well as the decision of Attorney General Bill Schuette to file and emergency stay.

Tuesday, March 25 — A group of marriage-equality advocates and elected officials today delivered 14,000 signatures and an album of wedding photos from Saturday urging Attorney General Bill Schuette to drop his appeal of a federal court ruling legalizing same-sex marriage in Michigan.


“We need to remember this isn’t about any one of us, it’s about all of us and that we need to see the faces of the happy couples that were so excited to get married on Saturday,” Senate Minority Leader Gretchen Whitmer said today at a press conference at the Capitol.


Whitmer was joined by representatives from Equality Michigan, a statewide LGBT rights advocacy group, and several elected officials, including State Rep. Sam Singh, D-East Lansing.


While clerks in Ingham, Washtenaw, Muskegon and Oakland counties granted marriage licenses Saturday, Attorney General Bill Schuette was granted a stay on the decision, effectively putting a hold on any further unions and casting a legal cloud over the roughly 300 licenses issued Saturday.


“There’s so much love and that love continues and it has always been there and in those court rooms, at those county clerk’s offices, there were so many couples. I would say the majority of the couples I saw there had been for decades just quietly waiting. And we will be dropping off these petitions at the Attorney General’s Office and saying we are done waiting,” said Emily Dievendorf, executive director of Equality Michigan.


Along with the petitions, Equality Michigan delivered a photo album of same-sex marriage ceremonies Saturday.

Glenna DeJong and Marsha Caspar, Michigan’s first same-sex couple to wed Saturday morning, spoke at today’s event, saying that after 27 years, they were finally done waiting.


“Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette, please make the right choice: Drop the appeal and let all Michiganians enjoy and celebrate marriage,” Caspar said.


After hearing testimony in the case, U.S. District Judge Bernard Friedman issued a 31-page decision, refuting the arguments made by Schuette’s experts and declaring Michigan’s ban on same-sex marriage was unconstitutional. Following the decision, the state filed a stay on the decision, giving the courts until Wednesday to decide where the case proceeds from here.


During questions, Dievendorf said that while she expects Michigan to eventually become a state where marriage rights are granted to same-sex couples, she expects the courts to extend the stay. Dievendorf also said Equality Michigan will continue to build support for a possible 2016 ballot initiative to amend the state’s constitution.

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