March 21, 2014
UPDATE 1 5:40PM ET State officials have filed their notice of appeal in the case. This is the notice that they will be appealing the judge’s order to the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals. It should be noted that with this appeal, every state that is within the Sixth Circuit has a marriage case pending at the appeals court.
UPDATE 2 5:51PM ET: The state attorney general has issued a statement and has said the notice of appeal has been filed, and that a request for an emergency stay was also filed. EqualityOnTrial is working on getting the stay request.
UPDATE 3 6:30PM ET: Chris Johnson from the Washington Blade tweeted that clerks are opening their offices and people may be able to get married. There’s still no word on the emergency stay request, which appears to have been filed at the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals.
UPDATE 4 7:07PM ET: Here is the 21-page emergency request for a stay in the Sixth Circuit.
UPDATE 5 8:12PM ET: The latest report says that if any clerks want to open for the weekend, they may do so, but it doesn’t say that any clerks so far have chosen to do that.
UPDATE 6 9:54PM ET: Washtenaw’s County Clerk will open office from 9AM – 1PM tomorrow.
A federal district court judge has just ruled that Michigan’s same-sex marriage ban is unconstitutional in DeBoer v. Snyder. The case was originally brought as a challenge to the state’s adoption ban, but was expanded to challenge the amendment barring same-sex couples from marrying or having their marriages recognized in the state. The ban was struck down using the most lenient form of review, rational basis, a standard considered more deferential toward the government. The ban “does not advance any conceivable legitimate state interest,” and therefore fails under any standard of review.
The judge is enjoining enforcement of the ban:
After reviewing the evidence presented at the trial, including the testimony of variousexpert witnesses, the exhibits, and stipulations, and after considering all of the legal issuesinvolved, the Court concludes that the MMA is unconstitutional and will enjoin its enforcement.
The judge writes that the statutes implementing the same-sex marriage ban are also unconstitutional:
IT IS HEREBY DECLARED that Article I, § 25 of the Michigan Constitution and its implementing statutes are unconstitutional because they violate the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution.
The judge, a Reagan appointee, found Mark Regnerus’ (author of a widely-discredited study on the supposed effects on children of same-sex parents) “entirely unbelievable”:
The Court finds Regnerus’s testimony entirely unbelievable and not worthy of serious consideration. The evidence adduced at trial demonstrated that his 2012 “study” was hastily concocted at the behest of a third-party funder, which found it “essential that the necessary data be gathered to settle the question in the forum of public debate about what kinds of family arrangement are best for society” and which “was confident that the traditional understanding of marriage will be vindicated by this study.” See Pls.’ Motion in limine to Exclude Testimony of Mark Regnerus, Ex. 9. In the funder’s view, “the future of the institution of marriage at this moment is very uncertain” and “proper research” was needed to counter the many studies showing no differences in child outcomes. Id. The funder also stated that “this is a project where time is of the essence.” Id.
He agreed Regnerus’ study is flawed:
Additionally, the NFSS is flawed on its face, as it purported to study “a large, random sample of American young adults (ages 18-39) who were raised indifferent types of family arrangements” (emphasis added), but in fact it did not study this at all, as Regnerus equated being raised by a same-sex couple with having ever lived with a parent who had a “romantic relationship with someone of the same sex” for any length of time. Whatever Regnerus may have found in this “study,” he certainly cannot purport to have undertaken a scholarly research effort to compare the outcomes of children raised by same-sex couples with those of children raised by heterosexual couples. It is no wonder that the NFSS has been widely and severely criticized by other scholars, and that Regnerus’s own sociology department at the University of Texas has distanced itself from the NFSS in particular and Dr. Regnerus’s views in general and reaffirmed the aforementioned APA position statement.
The formal judgment is here:
The Court in this matter has issued its Findings of Fact and Conclusions of Law.
In accordance therewith,
IT IS ORDERED AND ADJUDGED that judgment be and is hereby granted for plaintiffs and against defendants.
IT IS FURTHER ORDERED AND ADJUDGED that defendants are hereby permanently enjoined from enforcing the Michigan Marriage Amendment and its implementing statutes, as they conflict with the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution.
This story will be updated as the opinion is read.
Updates moved to top of the post
MUCH thanks to Kathleen Perrin and Equality Case Files for these filings
For more information on DeBoer v. Snyder from The Civil Rights Litigation Clearinghouse, click here.