Activist Group Challenges Michigan Marriage Amendment

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MICHIGAN – A federal judge is the first to cite the new ruling from the U.S. Supreme Court in a state case involving same-sex marriage. Michigan’s marriage amendment faces challenges on several fronts: Gay activists are trying to repeal it; a same-sex couple is suing to adopt children and a court has issued a temporary injunction that allows benefits to domestic partners.

Two days after the Supreme Court handed down its marriage decisions, U.S. District Judge David S. Lawson ruled that the state of Michigan cannot enforce the Public Employee Domestic Partner Restriction Act. Public Act 297 protects the state from being forced to provide medical and other fringe benefits to the same-sex partners of state employees.  Lawson cited the high court’s Windsor opinion in his decision.

Bruce Hausknecht, CitizenLink judicial analyst, disagrees with Lawson’s reasoning.

“Public Act 297 was simply the Michigan Legislature’s attempt to prevent certain state government entities from violating the spirit — if not the actual language — of the state’s marriage amendment,” he said.  “It’s clear he’s is telling the court above him, the Sixth Circuit, to get on the bandwagon and strike down anything that pertains to traditional marriage.”

Equality Michigan has announced that it will spend $12 million to repeal the amendment, which defines marriage as the union of one man and one woman. The activist group will now have the assistance of a case moving through the courts. In addition, two women are challenging a state statute that prohibits adoptions by same-sex couples. They claim that the Supreme Court decision in Windsor, which struck down a provision of the federal Defense of Marriage Act, allows them to co-adopt each other’s children.

Dan Jarvis with the Michigan Family Forum (MFF) said the adoption case has been ongoing, but the repeal of the state’s marriage law is a new twist.

“In Michigan a single person can adopt, or a married couple can adopt, but unmarried couples are not allowed to adopt,” said Jarvis, MFF’s director of research and public policy.  “After the Windsor case the judge expanded his decision. He’s going to also consider striking down Michigan’s marriage amendment in additional to allowing the adoption. That would be a very sweeping decision by a federal judge to overturn our constitutional amendment and a state statute in one decision.”

FOR MORE INFORMATION
Read the federal court order granting benefits to a same-sex couple in Bassett v. Snyder.The order bars enforcement of Michigan’s Public Act 297.

Read the federal court order in DeBoer v. Snyder. The court refused to dismiss a same-sex couple’s challenge to the state’s adoption law.

Read United States v. Windsor.