Judge rules Michigan's ban on gay marriage is unconstitutional

State asks for emergency stay, files appeal after judge's ruling

DETROIT – A Michigan couple has won their fight against the state's voter-approved ban on same-sex marriage.

Federal Judge Bernard Friedman gave his decision Friday, two weeks after the couple's trial against the ban. Friedman's ruling says the state's ban is "unconstitutional because they violate the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution."

View/download: Judge's ruling

For April DeBoer and Jayne Rowse the road to this ruling was years in the making. Their goal was simple. They want to be able to adopt their children as a couple. The ruling Friday by Friedman paves the way for that to happen.

DeBoer and Rowse celebrated the ruling with their attorney and children at their Hazel Park home.

Video: DeBoer, Rowse celebrate after judge's gay marriage ban ruling

Storify: Twitter reacts to judge's ruling

State asks for emergency stay, appeal

The 31-page ruling came down early Friday evening. Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette has filed an appeal and an emergency request for a stay with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit in Cincinnati, Ohio. That request is pending.

Michigan AG: Freeze gay-marriage ban strike-down

View/download: State appeal request

No marriages for now, but will there be?

Meanwhile, all county clerks offices, which issue marriage licenses, are closed until Monday. A stay could come over the weekend. If there is a stay, then there won't be any same-sex marriages in Michigan for now. This could go to a higher court.

But if there is no stay and no higher court intervenes, clerks could start issuing licenses Monday morning.

Oakland County Clerk Lisa Brown said she is thrilled with the ruling.

"I am thrilled with Judge Friedman's ruling today granting same-sex couples equal protection of the law," Brown said in a statement. "It's a relief that my office is no longer forced to discriminate against same-sex couples. During the course of the trial I've heard from many residents who want to be first in line to get a marriage license. I couldn't be happier to say that their wait is finally over. It's taken too long to get to this point, but we are finally here."


In 2004, the state of Michigan enacted the Defense of Marriage Act after it was passed by 59 percent of voters. The act argues that children benefit from living in homes of heterosexual couples.

April DeBoer and Jayne Rowse sued the state of Michigan's federal court in an effort to overturn the state's ban on joint adoptions by same-sex couples. Friedman invited them to challenge the state's ban on same-sex marriage. They refiled the lawsuit and went to trial against the state's ban on gay marriage.

DeBoer and Rowse have been together for eight years and are raising three adopted children who have special needs. Under Michigan's law, they can't jointly adopt the kids because they're not married, which could cause problems if one of the women dies.

Science, data, expert testimony and constitutional protections were among the various points attorneys presented before Friedman in the case that has attracted attention because other states with similar bans have ended up in federal court.

Read back: Trial over Michigan's gay marriage ban: The rundown

About the Authors:

Dave Bartkowiak Jr. is the digital managing editor for ClickOnDetroit.