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Michigan marriage equality lawsuit will continue; judge rejects motion to dismiss

DeBoer Marriage equality Marriage Equality Trials

By Scottie Thomaston

Jayne Rowse and April DeBoer
Jayne Rowse and April DeBoer

When the Supreme Court decided to hear challenges to California’s Prop 8 and Section 3 of the federal Defense of Marriage Act, the other federal marriage cases working their way through the lower courts were halted in their respective districts. One of these cases is DeBoer v. Snyder, challenging Michigan’s ban on same-sex marriage and adoption in federal court. The case started out as simply a challenge to Michigan’s restrictive adoption law, but the challenge failed, and the plaintiffs amended their complaint, adding the marriage ban as a target. The judge placed the case on hold soon after the Supreme Court acted on similar cases.

Yesterday, though, the federal judge rejected the state’s attempt to have the challenge thrown out of court, citing United States v. Windsor.

The judge pointed out that both sides in this litigation can find support in the Windsor decision:

Plaintiffs’ equal protection claim has sufficient merit to proceed. The United StatesSupreme Court’s recent decision in United States v. Windsor, No. 12-307 (U.S. Jun. 26, 2013), has provided the requisite precedential fodder for both parties to this litigation. Defendants will no doubt cite to the relevant paragraphs of the majority opinion espousing the state’s “historicand essential authority to define the marital relation.”
On the other hand, plaintiffs are prepared to claim Windsor as their own; their briefs sureto be replete with references to the newly enthroned triumvirate of Romer v. Evans, 517 U.S. 620(1996), Lawrence v. Texas, 539 U.S. 558 (2003) and now Windsor. And why shouldn’t they?

There was no indication of how the judge might rule in the end, though he did say that the court “cannot say that plaintiffs’ claims for relief are without plausibility.”

There will be a conference on July 10, during which a trial date will be set.

h/t Kathleen for this filing

2:12-cv-10285 #54 by EqualityCaseFiles

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