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. Michiganâ€™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.Â Lawson cited the high courtâ€™s Windsor opinion in his decision.
Bruce Hausknecht, CitizenLink judicial analyst, disagrees with Lawsonâ€™s reasoning.
â€œPublic Act 297 was simply the Michigan Legislatureâ€™s attempt to prevent certain state government entities from violating the spirit â€” if not the actual language â€” of the stateâ€™s marriage amendment,â€ he said.Â â€œItâ€™s clear heâ€™s is telling the court above him, the Sixth Circuit, to get on the bandwagon and strike down anything that pertains to traditional marriage.â€
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 inÂ Windsor,Â which struck down a provision of the federal Defense of Marriage Act, allows them to co-adopt each otherâ€™s children.
Dan Jarvis with the Michigan Family Forum (MFF) said the adoption case has been ongoing, but the repeal of the stateâ€™s marriage law is a new twist.
â€œIn Michigan a single person can adopt, or a married couple can adopt, but unmarried couples are not allowed to adopt,â€ said Jarvis, MFFâ€™s director of research and public policy.Â â€œAfter theÂ WindsorÂ case the judge expanded his decision. Heâ€™s going to also consider striking down Michiganâ€™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.â€
FOR MORE INFORMATION
Read the federal court order granting benefits to a same-sex couple inÂ Bassett v. Snyder.The order bars enforcement of Michiganâ€™s Public Act 297.
Read the federal court order inÂ DeBoer v. Snyder.Â The court refused to dismiss a same-sex coupleâ€™s challenge to the stateâ€™s adoption law.
ReadÂ United States v. Windsor.