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Arguments in Michigan marriage equality case to be heard in mid-October

DeBoer LGBT Legal Cases Marriage equality Marriage Equality Trials

Michigan state sealA federal judge will hear oral arguments in the challenge to Michigan’s ban on same-sex marriage in mid-October. Arguments on the merits were originally scheduled for October 1, but in a new order issued last Tuesday, the hearing has been rescheduled for October 16. According to the filing, the October 16 hearing relates to motions for summary judgment, i.e. on the merits, filed by plaintiffs and defendants. The state argues that “because no fundamental right is implicated, because Plaintiffs are not part of a suspect class, and because Michigan has articulated multiple legitimate interests that are furthered by—and are thus rationally related to—both the Michigan Marriage Amendment Act and its Adoption Code,” the same-sex couples who are plaintiffs are not entitled to a ruling in favor of marriage equality.

The state also argues that the courts are not the proper venue to decide the issue of same-sex marriage:

Recent polling suggests that public opinion in Michigan may be shifting where same-sex relationships are concerned. Perhaps, the people of the State of Michigan are now ready to support the changes that Plaintiffs yearn for. But, to be clear, a shift in public opinion does not make the Michigan Marriage Amendment or the Adoption Code, as they stand today, unconstitutional. At best, it makes them out of alignment with public opinion, and there is an appropriate process for remedying that—the democratic process—not this Court.

The plaintiffs, who are opposing the state’s own motion for summary judgment, argue that the three Supreme Court cases involving gay equality show that gays and lesbians have the same freedom to form a family as anyone else:

In light of Romer, Lawrence and, most recently, Windsor,there is no principled, rational basis for arguing that gays and lesbians do not have the same fundamental human rights to intimate association and to form a family as heterosexuals.

The plaintiffs also argue that the state conflates gender with sexual orientation:

The State Defendants also conflate discrimination based on gender, which is not at issue in this case, with the distinctly different concept of discrimination based on sexual orientation. Brief, p 15. For this simple but dispositive reason, the State Defendants’ argument that Michigan’s laws against marriage equality do not violate the equal protection clause because they equally prohibit both men and women from marrying someone of the same sex is utterly beside the point.
This argument also recalls Anatole France’s oft-cited lament that “‘The law, in its majestic equality, forbids the rich as well as the poor to sleep under bridges, to beg in the streets, and to steal bread.’” Griffin v Illinois, 351 US 12, 23 (1956), Frankfurter, J., concurring.

The case is DeBoer v. Snyder Plaintiffs’ motion for summary judgment, filed back in August, is here. EqualityOnTrial will post the other Scribd filings when they are uploaded.

Thanks, as always, to Kathleen Perrin for the filings.

Scheduling order:

2:12-cv-10285 #77 by Equality Case Files


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