DETROIT (WWJ) – U.S. District Judge Bernard Friedman Tuesday will hear arguments from a lesbian couple who have three adopted children, who argue that the voter approved ban on same-sex marriage violates their constitutional right.
“I don’t think civil rights should be up to a vote,” says Amanda Shelton.
Shelton, an attorney who is lesbian, tells WWJ’s Sandra McNeill that she believes times have changed since she and her partner had their commitment ceremony in 2000.
“We had a hard time finding a venue that would rent to us,” she said. “Once they learned we were having a same-sex wedding – they wouldn’t have anything to do with it. Now … we have the same-sex wedding expo.”
Shelton, who is not a party to the lawsuit, says that being allowed to marry would allow her and her partner, Kay, to take advantage of tax benefits.
“(It would ensure that) Kay could collect on my social security – I’ve been the majority wage earner for most of our relationship and she doesn’t get any type of credit for social security,” she said.
Shelton says without a legal marriage, gay couples can face some troubling problems like being able to see their children after they split up.
“We are pretty much like everybody else, we have the same parenting struggles, trying to get kids to go to bed, eat their vegetables, do their homework; being exhausted trying to balance work and family. Those are the same struggles that people have regardless of sexual orientation, who they happen to be married to, but we shouldn’t have to have an extra hurdle.”
“Your spouse has the right to claim your body if you die – if you are not legally married then your next of kin has that option,” said Shelton.
State Attorney General Bill Schuette argues that marriage between a man and a woman is the best possible environment for the health and wellness of the children.
Schuette states that the ban is to ensure that relations benefit, rather than harm, society and threatens to appeal if the ban is overturned.