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Lawyers Oppose Stay, Ask Court To Let Michigan Gay Marriages Resume

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Jayne Rowse and her partner April DeBoer -- the Detroit-area nurses who filed a lawsuit to try to overturn restrictions on adoption by same-sex partners. (WWJ Photo/Ron Dewey)  FILE

Jayne Rowse and her partner April DeBoer — the Detroit-area nurses who filed a lawsuit to try to overturn restrictions on adoption by same-sex partners. (WWJ Photo/Ron Dewey) FILE

DETROIT (WWJ) – Attorneys representing the plaintiffs in the Michigan same sex-marriage case have filed paperwork opposing the state attorney general’s request for a stay, claiming the request it was improperly filed.

In a court filing Tuesday, attorneys for Detroit-area nurses Jayne Rowse and her partner April DeBoer say the appeals court shouldn’t yet intervene in the case because Attorney General Bill Schuette filed his stay request in the wrong court

They argue Schuette should have asked federal Judge Bernard Friedman before asking the appeals court — and that failing to do so violated court procedure.

The plaintiffs also argue that preventing same-sex couples from marrying is discrimination, and that lifting the stay promotes equality and human dignity as well as providing security for children.

In the filing, the attorneys suggest that the state presented a poor case against gay marriage, failing to prove its case that children suffer in same-sex households.

“…The overwhelming weight of the scientific evidence supports the ‘no differences’ viewpoint as to the outcomes of children raised by heterosexual couple parents and same-sex couple parents,” the attorneys write.

The lawyers say the testimony of the state’s primary witness as to child outcomes was “entirely unbelievable and not worthy of serious consideration,” and the state’s witnesses as a group “clearly represent a fringe viewpoint that is rejected by the vast majority of their colleagues across a variety of social fields.” Therefore, the attorneys say, there is “no logical connection between banning same-sex marriage and providing children with an ‘optimal environment’ or achieving ‘optimal outcomes.'”

Separately, the couples attorneys say a suspension of Friedman’s decision is inappropriate because the state of Michigan is unlikely to win an appeal in the long run.

In a response filed by Schuette on Tuesday, he also asked the appeals court to order a stay of Friedman’s ruling as well as rule on his appeal request.

In response Tuesday, the attorney general’s office again repeated its request for a longer freeze, pointing to a similar time-out ordered by the U.S. Supreme Court in January in a Utah gay marriage case.

If the appeals court disagrees, the state hopes to at least get a stay until Friday so it can go to the Supreme Court.

“The Supreme Court has already determined that a stay pending appeal is warranted when a district court strikes down a state constitutional amendment defining marriage,” wrote Schuette, who pointing to a similar time-out ordered by the U.S. Supreme Court in January in a Utah gay marriage case.

Among those speaking out against Schuette’s stay were Senator Gretchen Whitmer (D -East Lansing), who called the AG’s efforts an “anti-gay political crusade.”

“The state’s top lawyer should be focused on the law and upholding the Constitution, not personal politics, and Bill Schuette needs to abandon his petty attack on marriage equality,”  Whitmer said in a statement. “He’s wasting precious taxpayer dollars by upholding a public referendum that’s no longer legal or indicative of public opinion. One group or person’s religious convictions or, in Schuette’s case, political platform cannot trump the law and infringe on the rights of these couples and their families.”

Friedman last week struck down a 2004 state constitutional amendment, passed by Michigan voters, limiting marriage to a man and a woman. Friedman says it violates the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

Lining up at county courthouses across Michigan, hundreds of couples were married before the appeals court temporarily froze the decision on Saturday.

Gov. Rick Snyder’s office says state agencies won’t immediately recognize this marriage. They’ll wait until the 6th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals in Cincinnati decides whether to extend the hold on the ruling.

Rowse and DeBoer, who have raised three adopted children since birth in their Hazel Park home, filed the initial lawsuit in U.S. District Court in Detroit.

TM and © Copyright 2014 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2014 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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