DETROIT (WWJ/AP) – A federal judge is setting aside at least eight days for a trial on Michigan’s ban on gay marriage.
Judge Bernard Friedman held a conference call with attorneys Wednesday to discuss the trial, which starts Feb. 25 in Detroit federal court.
In 2004, Michigan voters banned gay marriage. But two Detroit-area nurses are challenging it as unconstitutional, as well as a state law that bars them from adopting each other’s kids.
Friedman is expected to hear from a variety of experts before settling the fate of the Michigan Constitution’s clause that recognizes marriage as being only between a man and a woman.
The state attorney general’s office says heterosexual marriage provides the best family setting for children. Attorneys for Jayne Rowse and April DeBoer say research shows there’s no difference for kids in same-sex households.
Rowse and April DeBoer, who seek to marry, are raising three adopted children with special needs. They filed a lawsuit back in 2012, hoping to strike down a state law that bars same-sex partners from adopting each other’s kids. The case was groundbreaking on its own, but then Friedman suggested challenging the gay marriage ban. If the ban is overturned, other laws, such as the adoption restriction, likely would fall, too.
Attorney Dana Nessel, co-counsel in the case, said she is hoping for a ruling that will be in favor of her clients.
“Michigan has one of the most draconian constitutional bans in the nation in that not only does it prevent same-sex marriage, but it also prohibits domestic partnerships or civil unions. So, there is literally no way in which same-sex couples can achieve any kind of legal recognition of their relationships in the state of Michigan,” Nessel told WWJ Newsradio 950.
Attorneys for DeBoer and Rowse say Michigan’s ban on gay marriage violates the Equal Protection Clause of the U.S. Constitution, which bars states from treating people differently.
“Here and now, as a matter of constitutional law as well as of social policy, the time for … dehumanization is past,” the couple’s lawyers said in a court filing.
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