Michigan gay couples wed after judge strikes down ban

Kathleen Erz (L) and Lesley Straith, who married each other in the state of Massachusetts in 2010, hold hands as they celebrate at the Affirmations Center after a Michigan federal judge ruled that a ban on same-sex marriage violates the U.S. Constitution and must be overturned, in Ferndale, Michigan. Credit: Reuters
Kathleen Erz (L) and Lesley Straith, who married each other in the state of Massachusetts in 2010, hold hands as they celebrate at the Affirmations Center after a Michigan federal judge ruled that a ban on same-sex marriage violates the U.S. Constitution and must be overturned, in Ferndale, Michigan.
Credit: Reuters

Officials in Michigan issued dozens of marriage licenses to same-sex couples in hastily arranged, joyful ceremonies on Saturday, a day after a federal judge struck down the state’s ban on allowing gay couples to wed.

At least 50 people had lined up in the Oakland County clerk’s office in Pontiac, on the outskirts of the Detroit metropolitan area, when Clerk Lisa Brown arrived to open it at 8 a.m. local time carrying a heart-shaped balloon.

Brown’s staff was among workers in several counties who handed out paperwork to couples undeterred by the Michigan attorney general’s immediate appeal of the judge’s decision.

Frank Colasonti, 61, and James Barclay Ryder, 48, became the first gay couple to marry in the county. They wore dark suits, with “Same Love, Same Rights” lapel pins.

“We’re going to celebrate with a nice quiet lunch and then go pick out our wedding rings,” Colasonti said following the ceremony, which took place 26 years after they met at a church.

Moments later, a lesbian couple emerged from the ceremony room, filling the corridor with elated shouts. As more couples arrived, Brown moved the proceedings to an auditorium for a mass wedding ceremony of a dozen couples or more.

Clerics who support gay and lesbian rights also arrived and found quiet corners in the hallways to conduct private ceremonies for couples clutching their newly issued licenses.

Clerks in at least three other counties – Washtenaw, Ingham and Muskegon – opened outside normal business hours on Saturday to issue marriage licenses.

The Ingham County clerk’s office said it issued at least 25 licenses. Lawrence Kestenbaum, the Washtenaw County clerk, said on his Facebook page that his office issued 74 marriage licenses before closing the door to new applicants at 1 p.m. on Saturday.

“Congratulations to each and every one!” he wrote.

LESBIAN COUPLE CHALLENGED BAN

Michigan’s ban on same-sex marriages became law in 2004 as a state constitutional amendment. It was challenged by a lesbian couple from the Detroit suburb of Hazel Park after the law prevented them from jointly adopting each other’s children.

On Friday, U.S. District Judge Bernard Friedman said the law breached equal protection rights guaranteed in the U.S. Constitution.

Bill Schuette, the state’s attorney general, asked the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit for an emergency order to stay the decision.

The court said on Saturday afternoon the plaintiffs’ lawyers had until midday Tuesday to file a response, making it unlikely a decision on the stay would be issued before then.

Brown, the Oakland County clerk, said the appeal was “a waste of taxpayer dollars.”

“I’m no longer forced to discriminate in my office,” she said. “Couples who have been waiting years to receive equal protection now have it.”

If a stay is granted, same-sex couples marrying on Saturday could find themselves in legal limbo.

In December, a federal district judge in Utah overturned that state’s ban on same-sex weddings and Utah’s attorney general appealed.

Some 1,300 gay couples were married in Utah in the few weeks before the U.S. Supreme Court granted a stay while the appeal is considered, leaving the newlyweds uncertain about whether they have the rights generally afforded by marriage.

April DeBoer and Jayne Rowse, the couple who successfully challenged the Michigan ban, said on Friday they would not marry until the legal uncertainty in their state was resolved.

Seventeen states plus the District of Columbia now allow same-sex nuptials, a number that would be substantially increased if a series of recent court decisions in other states are upheld.

Supporters of the ban in Michigan, Utah and elsewhere have cited tradition, religious texts and the welfare of children to defend their belief that only opposite-sex marriage should be legal, arguments that several courts have ruled not sufficient.



News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
National

California passes 'yes-means-yes' campus sexual assault bill

Californian lawmakers passed a law on Thursday requiring universities to adopt "affirmative consent" language in their definitions of consensual sex, part of a nationwide drive to curb sexual assault on…

National

Syrian refugees top 3 million, half of all…

By Stephanie NebehayGENEVA (Reuters) - Three million Syrian refugees will have registered in neighboring countries as of Friday, but many remain trapped by the advance…

International

North Korean leader's money manager defects in Russia:…

A senior North Korean banking official who managed money for leader Kim Jong Un has defected in Russia and was seeking asylum in a third country, a South Korean newspaper…

Local

MAP: New York City Street Closures August 29,…

The Department of Transportation and NYPD said there may be residual delays near all of the street closures on August 29, 31 and 31. Several streets and avenues will be…

Going Out

'Friends' coffeehouse Central Perk coming to NYC —…

"Friends" is coming back for a one-off special: "The One with the Free Coffee." Warner Bros. is bringing a pop-up replica of Central Perk, the…

Movies

Interview: 'As Above, So Below' directors: 5 ways…

The fraternal directors of the found footage horror "As Above, So Below" dish on the best ways to frighten the bejesus out of audiences.

Movies

Criterion's new Jacques Demy box mixes the light…

Jacques Demy, the most effervescent of French New Wave filmmakers, gets a Criterion box all to himself, with classics like "The Umbrellas of Cherbourg."

Entertainment

Comedian Joan Rivers, 81, rushed to New York…

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Acerbic comedian and fashion critic Joan Rivers was rushed to Mount Sinai Hospital in New York on Thursday after she reportedly…

NFL

3 things we learned in the Giants preseason…

The final score didn’t matter — a 16-13 win by the Giants — but it would’ve been nice to finally see Big Blue’s new-look offense get on track.

NFL

NFL Power Rankings: Seahawks, Broncos, Patriots, 49ers start…

NFL Power Rankings: Seahawks, Broncos, Patriots start at top

U.S. Soccer

5 facts about new England captain Wayne Rooney

Manchester United striker Wayne Rooney was named as the new England captain by coach Roy Hodgson on Thursday.

NFL

Jets vs. Eagles: 3 things to watch

A win on Thursday night at the Eagles would give the Jets a 3-1 record and just their second winning preseason under head coach Rex Ryan.

Style

Trend: White hot on the 2014 Emmy's red…

White was one of the big trends on the Emmy's red carpet.

Food

Recipe: Samuel Adams beer-marinated grilled shrimp

Summer calls for two things: a cold beer and light food. Sam Adams' Latitude 48 IPA fairly bursts with citrus notes, making it an ideal marinade…

Wellbeing

4 healthy ingredient swaps to make your meals…

When it comes to eating well, everyone knows they could be doing better. But cooking in an apartment on a busy schedule is a recipe…

Wellbeing

Heart trumps brain when it comes to movies…

When you need a good cry, do you reach for the movie that’s “based on a true story”? Science says you’re giving your brain far…