FERNDALE (WWJ/AP) – The U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in a gay marriage case from California doesn’t have an immediate impact on Michigan’s voter-approved constitutional amendment defining marriages as between a man and a woman.
“Michigan voters spoke to this issue in 2004, and they overwhelmingly — with about 58 to 59 percent of the people — said we want a ban in our constitution to gay marriage,” said WWJ Lansing Bureau Chief Tim Skubick. “That does not change by this court ruling at all.”
The court didn’t make a sweeping statement on the legality of gay marriage Wednesday. It simply let stand a trial judge’s decision that the California ban is unconstitutional.
Susan Horowitz, Publisher and Editor of Between The Lines, the statewide gay and lesbian newspaper, says the ruling is still great news.
“The fact that … the majority opinion saw it as a violation of the equal protection clause lays a lot of groundwork for future litigation. And future litigation that is likely to eventually overturn bans like we have here in the state of Michigan,” Horowitz said.
Horowitz said her first pride march was 41 years ago this weekend.
“And to see these 41 years go by and the progress we’ve made … I’m literally shaking right now,” Horowitz said. “I’m watching the television behind me — in California and the Supreme Court — and I’m extremely emotional about it because it’s just been an amazing journey, honestly.”
Two Hazel Park women, in middle of their own legal battle involving same-sex marriage and adoption, said the Supreme Court ruling was encouraging — and they hope their challenge to the Michigan ban will also have a positive outcome.
Attorney Dana Nessel, who represents Jayne Rowse and April DeBoer in that case, said they will pursue this as far as it must go.
“If this ends up being the case to go to the United States Supreme Court in which all 50 states are determined to have the right for same-sex couples to marry, then so be it,” Nessel said.
Judge Bernard Friedman heard arguments in March but said he would wait for guidance from the Supreme Court before making a decision.
The American Civil Liberties Union says key parts of another Supreme Court opinion on a federal marriage law could help it defeat Michigan’s ban in Friedman’s court.
Among those celebrating Wednesday’s developments at the Affirmation’s Community Center in downtown Ferndale was Vagner Whitehead who said, while this does not have a direct impact on his life, it’s not all about him.
“I don’t think as a citizen I just have to think of myself,” Whitehead told WWJ Newsradio 950’s Ron Dewey. “I have to think of everybody, so, solidarity and compassion and human rights is for everybody … whether it applies directly to me or not.”
Whitehead said he hopes the court’s ruling will help to eventually bring about marriage equality in Michigan — but, he believes, there is a lot of work to be done before that can happen.
Attorney General Bill Schuette, who supports the ban, says states have the power to define marriage.
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