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Some Michigan county clerks will issue marriage licenses Saturday; Sixth Circuit orders response to stay request by Tuesday

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Michigan state sealUPDATE Saturday, March 22 9:37AM ET: A fourth county, Ingham, is also issuing marriage licenses. More info here.

UPDATE 2 9:41AM ET: The first couple has gotten their license. Photos here.

UPDATE 3 4:18PM ET: The Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals has called for a response to the emergency stay request by noon next Tuesday. This means marriages will continue at least until then,

UPDATE 4 7:13PM ET Sixth Circuit changes its mind, and has issued a temporary stay until Wednesday. Marriages are on hold.

As EqualityOnTrial noted in its report earlier, Washtenaw County’s clerk will open their office tomorrow (Saturday) from 9AM – 1PM to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples.

A federal district court judge has struck down the state’s same-sex marriage ban, and no stay of his decision has been issued. The state officials defending the ban have appealed the case to the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals, and they’ve filed an emergency request for a stay in that court. As of this writing, no stay has been issued.

But other counties are joining Washtenaw in offering marriage licenses tomorrow. A reporter from WOOD-TV8 tweeted that Muskegon County’s clerk will be issuing same-sex marriage licenses tomorrow at the Harbor Unitarian Universalist Congregation. Oakland County’s Clerk, Lisa Brown, will open her office from 9AM – 1PM as well.

Most, if not all, of these counties require at least one of the applicants to reside in the county where they’re applying for a license.

As of this writing, these are the only three counties who have confirmed they’ll be open tomorrow. Other counties could announce a decision soon, or in the morning.

For more information on DeBoer v. Snyder from The Civil Rights Litigation Clearinghouse, click here.


  • 1. karen in kalifornia  |  March 21, 2014 at 9:20 pm

    Congratulations Michigan!!!

  • 2. Rick O.  |  March 22, 2014 at 5:46 am

    ABC – license issued Ingham county.

  • 3. Scottie Thomaston  |  March 22, 2014 at 6:40 am

    Just added Ingham to the list, thanks!

  • 4. loaferguy  |  March 22, 2014 at 6:21 am

    First gay couple marries in Michigan:

  • 5. USA Michigan: Counties Pr&hellip  |  March 22, 2014 at 6:41 am

    […] Equality on Trial reports: […]

  • 6. Bill  |  March 22, 2014 at 6:43 am

    So happy for the Michiganders!

  • 7. Dr. Z  |  March 22, 2014 at 7:15 am

    Mazel tov to all the happy couples! Such a great day!

  • 8. Dann  |  March 22, 2014 at 7:49 am

    I was born and raised in Wisconsin. I hope now that since Wisconsin is completly surrounded by ME on all sides including Canada north of Lake Superior that this will somehow help our cause! Congratulations Michigan!!

  • 9. Straight Ally #3008  |  March 23, 2014 at 9:18 am

    Wisconsin and Arizona are now both surrounded by states/countries with ME, civil unions, or state marriage bans struck down. A nationwide sweep isn't far off.

  • 10. JimT  |  March 22, 2014 at 8:06 am

    I'm anxious to see how many couples in Michigan will get married and am wondering how organized the LGBTQ community is in MIchigan. The LGBTQ people in Utah were well organized and very quick to accomplish so many marriages in such a short period of time.

  • 11. JimT  |  March 22, 2014 at 8:14 am

    So far it appears 6 have gotten married in one county . MLIVE is doing live coverage of Michigan weddings, LOOK in their comments for live updates at

    MLIVE did excellent live daily coverage of that trial.

  • 12. JimT  |  March 22, 2014 at 8:22 am

    The 1st marriage was broadcast live on TV see it at

  • 13. JimT  |  March 22, 2014 at 8:54 am

    Ooops, that was meant to be the 1st license in THAT county.

  • 14. Lymis  |  March 22, 2014 at 9:24 am

    There is a UUC Church that has a county clerk on hand to issue licenses and is performing weddings immediately.

  • 15. Pat  |  March 22, 2014 at 11:55 am

    Since one of the partners needs to be a resident of the county, it s likely to yield much fewer weddings than in NM or IL, right?

  • 16. davep  |  March 22, 2014 at 8:06 am

    So glad that this is happening today. Yes, this may turn into a Utah situation for a bit, but these couples are still getting MARRIED today.

  • 17. StraightDave  |  March 22, 2014 at 8:27 am

    I hope the 6th punts and lets SCOTUS eat their own mistake on UT. Whatever SCOTUS decides to do, it will embarrass them. Their only possible fig leaf is letting MI slide because there was a full trial. Or they can double down on their timidity and throw good decisions after bad so they don't look as inconsistent as they already are. I'm betting the latter, unfortunately. But they're probably praying the 6th will take them off the hook.

    Meanwhile, the 6th already has its own 4-state dam ready to burst. "Warp drive, Mr Sulu. Engage!" We're lookin' at you, George Takei.

  • 18. Rose  |  March 22, 2014 at 9:09 am

    Congratulations to all of the couples who have waited so long for this day and for the County Clerks who are making it happen:-)

    And yes, I do hope that SCOTUS let's this go forward……but in the end, it WON'T matter because their marriages will still be legal and valid, recognized by both the State and Federal Governments!!!

  • 19. JimT  |  March 22, 2014 at 10:01 am

    MLIVE reports one Michigan County Clerk says: "I will continue as long as the church allows us to stay here and there has not been a stay issued by the sixth circuit." There's still a line in the church’s foyer at least 12 couples waiting in the sanctuary as long people are in line they will continue beyond 1:00PM. MLIVE’s live coverage continues, updates are in the “comments” area at

    Give it a minute to load!

  • 20. JimT  |  March 22, 2014 at 10:03 am

    And the County Clerk’s response to the AG's appeal was: "Our policy is that these are all legal and we're moving forward." MLIVE’s live coverage continues, updates are in the “comments” area at

    Give it a minute to load!

  • 21. Ryan K.  |  March 22, 2014 at 10:21 am

    Do we have an updated map? Very happy to see the state were I was raised take this step, and by a district judge appointed by none other than Reagan himself.

  • 22. FYoung  |  March 22, 2014 at 12:31 pm

    Here's the Wikipedia map:

  • 23. Pat  |  March 22, 2014 at 3:17 pm

    In that Wikipedia map, it seems Michigan should be colored BLUE, at least as long as no stay is granted.

  • 24. Pat  |  March 22, 2014 at 3:31 pm

    Argh, OK it WAS stayed!

  • 25. FYoung  |  March 22, 2014 at 3:56 pm

    Michigan WAS Navy blue when I first posted the link, but a temporary stay was later granted; so Michigan became striped.

  • 26. Ryan K.  |  March 23, 2014 at 8:39 am

    Here is the other map I was looking for an update one… I've now bookmarked the main page:

  • 27. Ryan K.  |  March 23, 2014 at 8:39 am

    Ironically it's already outdated given the temporary stay issued by the 6th.

  • 28. MNbob  |  March 22, 2014 at 10:27 am

    Good. The faster this happens, the more difficult it is to reverse the decision.

    Will this get stayed too like every single other case? Why do these things always get stayed? It's frustrating.

  • 29. JimT  |  March 22, 2014 at 11:18 am

    Being reported that Muskegon County Clerk Nancy Waters has said she is running out of supplies. "I don't want to take a break, but I'm running out of these," she said, holding up a few pamphlets. "The law requires these." Hopefully they’ll figure out a quick fix for those still waiting in line.

    MLIVE’s live coverage continues, updates are in the “comments” area at

  • 30. Chris M.  |  March 22, 2014 at 12:34 pm

    In Washtenaw county, they closed the office as previously announced after four hours. That was all the overtime that was authorized by the board of supervisors and the sheriff. In that time, they got about 70 couples married, but another 150 to 200 were turned away as they ran out of time and closed. Let's hope the legal landscape is still the same come Monday morning.

  • 31. JimT  |  March 22, 2014 at 12:46 pm

    Openly gay Judge Judith Ellen Levy of the Federal District Court for Eastern Michigan officiated at one couple’s wedding in Ann Arbor. The judge who has three daughters was recently confirmed to the bench by the US Senate on March 12 of this year and received her judicial commission on March 14, 2014.



  • 32. Michael Grabow  |  March 24, 2014 at 10:37 am

    She clerked for Judge Friedman!

  • 33. Tim  |  March 22, 2014 at 12:51 pm

    Will there be some time before a stay could be implemented? In other words, will the court ask the plaintiffs for a response on the state's request for a stay and there will be some back/forth before the 6th makes a decision?

    Or will it just be automatic from the request from the state with no input from the plaintiffs?

  • 34. Scottie Thomaston  |  March 22, 2014 at 1:32 pm

    The court has just given the plaintiffs until Tuesday to respond. I updated my post.

  • 35. Tim  |  March 22, 2014 at 1:49 pm

    Thanks. Do you know when we'll find out which judges are making the decision on the stay? Before or after it's made. I see there are no names on the directive.

  • 36. Barb  |  March 22, 2014 at 1:22 pm

    The 6th circuit has given the plaintiffs until Tuesday to respond to the stay request by the attorney general. What will they likely say in their response?

  • 37. sam  |  March 22, 2014 at 1:41 pm

    IANAL but it seems likely they'll emphasise the standard 4-part test for granting stays, none of which the states arguments in their appeal satisfies. No court since Windsor that has explicitly applied that test has sided with the state.

    They'll probably also argue the case went to trial and therefore can't be compared to Utah.

  • 38. Barb  |  March 22, 2014 at 1:47 pm

    What are the 4 parts?

  • 39. sam  |  March 22, 2014 at 1:54 pm

    Sorry, i was getting confused, the 6th circuit probably has different proceedures re: stays

  • 40. Mike in Baltimore  |  March 22, 2014 at 4:48 pm

    Appeals are governed by the Federal Rules of Appellate Procedure – Rule 9 (too lengthy to reproduce here). Individual Circuits must adopt them, but can supplement the rules if/when needed.

  • 41. Colleen  |  March 22, 2014 at 1:52 pm

    Curious: what's the functional difference between a trial versus a summary decision? Is one considered to carry more legal weight than the other, and why?

  • 42. ebohlman  |  March 22, 2014 at 2:20 pm

    A trial includes findings of fact as well as conclusions of law, whereas a summary judgment includes only the latter. The big difference is that an appellate court is bound by the trial court's findings of fact (e.g. that Regnerus's claims aren't credible) whereas they can completely ignore the conclusions of law and substitute their own if they so choose (as was seen in Perry where the Ninth Circuit, in upholding Walker's decision, used completely different legal reasoning than he did, with the effect of greatly narrowing its scope).

    So, for example, the State of Michigan won't be able argue before the Sixth Circuit that there really is significant scientific concern that same-sex households hurt kids; that issue is considered settled for purposes of this case. They could argue that MI's amendment deserves special consideration because it was the result of a popular vote, since Friedman's decision that it doesn't was a conclusion of law.

  • 43. W. Kevin Vicklund  |  March 22, 2014 at 9:10 pm

    Not quite accurate. Findings of fact in a bench trial (where the judge is the finder of fact) are subject to "clearly erroneous" standard of review: there has to be a clear error for the appeals court to overturn any findings of fact. The finding that Regnerus's "study" isn't credible would be the first thing defendants would claim is in clear error. However, since this is a constitutional challenge, all conclusions of law are subject to de novo review: the appeals court reviews the arguments as if they were new, without regard to the lower court ruling.

  • 44. Zack12  |  March 22, 2014 at 10:57 pm

    So that jerk's study can be put back in play? URRRRGGGHHHH!!!

  • 45. Guest  |  March 22, 2014 at 11:55 pm

    Well, that is perhaps an argument that they can make, although they might not since it is kind of a loser. Demonstrating clear error is a very difficult task.

  • 46. Chris M.  |  March 22, 2014 at 1:50 pm

    Oh, it's likely that they will argue that it failed the usual test, like likelihood of success on appeal, concrete, immediate harm for the plaintiffs vs. abstract, hypothetical harm to the state, if any, etc. and the 6th has a tradition an precedents to be very stingy with stays. It will be harder to get around the stay of the Utah decision by SCOTUS, but since they didn't tell us why they stayed that one, one could argue that they did not want to change the standard test criteria, but that there was something specific to the Utah case that triggered the stay, like the lack of a trial, Scalia throwing a hissy fit over being trolled in the opinion, or the concrete and particularized harm of soiled magic undies if that decision hadn't been stayed.

  • 47. Ragavendran  |  March 22, 2014 at 7:48 pm

    Yes, I posted this in another thread, but since it is more relevant here regarding stays, here it is:

    Apparently, there is 6th Circuit precedent for DENYING stay pending appeal when a Michigan district court ruled a state law unconstitutional. Quoting from Judge Trauger's recent order denying stay in Tanco v. Haslam (the Tennessee case):

    "where a district court had found a Michigan law unconstitutional and enjoined its enforcement, the Sixth Circuit denied a motion by the defendants for a stay pending appeal. See U.S. Student Assoc. Found. v. Land, 546 F.3d 373 (6th Cir. 2008); see also United Food & Commercial Workers Union, Local 1099 v. Sw. Ohio Reg’l Transit Auth., 163 F.3d 341, 348 (6th Cir. 1998) (criticizing reliance on the “status quo” and upholding injunction requiring defendant to accept plaintiff’s advertisement, where plaintiff was likely to prevail on First Amendment claim premised on defendant’s previous refusal to accept the ad)."

  • 48. sam  |  March 22, 2014 at 2:01 pm

    Apparently 6th circuit has issued a temporary stay til Wednesday!

    Wtf? A temporary stay until they decide to grant the emergency stay? That's ridiculous!

  • 49. DavidAZ  |  March 22, 2014 at 3:29 pm

    Possibly not. The 6th circuit could have pulled the legal marriage plug the instant they received the AG's emergency stay request. They didn't. In approximately 4 hours almost 350 couples got marriage licenses. And that's from just 4 out of 83 counties. I'll bet the entire state doesn't average that many on a normal work day of 8 hours. A powerful message to sitting jurists. The 3 judge panel hearing the stay request have now had ample time to digest Bernard Friedman's ruling. From his 4 points of law they can also glean that the State of Michigan has absolutely nothing but hubris in their defense. A solid Plaintiff response on Tuesday could be the final nail in Michigan's awful defense of the ban. The judges could deny a permanent stay but schedule the case for an appeals hearing down the road. Marriages would resume state wide. Of course Schuette could go for the full monty by asking for a SCOTUS stay. But there he runs up full against Elana Kagan. Not sure he wants to do that so early in his AG career.

  • 50. ebohlman  |  March 22, 2014 at 8:23 pm

    Also, remember that recklessly confident assertion (in the application to the 6th for emergency stay) that the SCOTUS's grant of a stay in Kitchen signaled their intent to eventually rule for UT? That's going to come back to bite them if they have to ask the SCOTUS for a stay, since I doubt any Justice particularly likes to be told in advance how they're going to rule.

  • 51. Dr. Z  |  March 23, 2014 at 3:53 am

    "I doubt any Justice particularly likes to be told in advance how they're going to rule."

    I think that's the real reason why SCOTUS granted the stay in Kitchen, and why a stay will also be granted here: mini-DOMAs are not unconstitutional until SCOTUS says they're unconsitiutional. Of course, having signaled that they are staking out that prerogative, SCOTUS has put a great deal of pressure on itself to clarify the situation since it's just a matter of time until one of the circuit courts strikes down DOMA – will SCOTUS still want a stay after that? If it's correct that SCOTUS wants to make the final determination as to whether the mini-DOMAs are unconstitutional, then they will be forced to grant cert to one of the cases in the 2014-2015 term, and decide this issue once and for all.

    That said, the more unanimity there is among the district and circuit courts, the more SCOTUS will be constrained in its options – even though "the law is what the Supreme Court says it is."

  • 52. Bruno71  |  March 23, 2014 at 4:54 pm

    I could see SCOTUS being more hesitant to grant cert to a case out of the 9th Circuit than the 10th or another. It's one thing to drag Montana kicking and screaming, it's another to drag Oklahoma.

  • 53. Scottie Thomaston  |  March 22, 2014 at 4:21 pm

    It would happen while I'm asleep haha. Updated this post.

  • 54. SFBay  |  March 22, 2014 at 2:05 pm

    March 22, 2014 at 4:47 pm
    Appeals court issues temporary stay in Michigan's gay marriage case

    From The Detroit News:

    Well that sucks

  • 55. Sagesse  |  March 22, 2014 at 2:39 pm

    323 marriage licences issued in four counties. That's a critical mass that can't be ignored. I personally don't believe that any marriages that were legal when they were performed will ever be overturned in any state. The whole 'legal limbo' thing is just sabre rattling to scare people.

  • 56. Dr. Z  |  March 22, 2014 at 3:16 pm

    In the end, the real critical mass is the number of federal court decisions in our favor since Windsor (namely, all of them.)

  • 57. Sagesse  |  March 22, 2014 at 2:18 pm

    Hmmm. So they allowed marriages to continue until 1 pm, and then issued the temporary stay…. Just hmmmm.

  • 58. ebohlman  |  March 22, 2014 at 2:55 pm

    They may have had some concern that the state would try to go over their heads (emergency request to the SCOTUS).

  • 59. Craig Nelson  |  March 22, 2014 at 3:48 pm

    I think so. It makes sense to hold it at the Circuit level before going to SCOTUS, where it will doubtless end up. They have to weigh up judicially the submissions from both parties in a fair manner and come to a conclusion, hopefully favorable (bearing in mind the trial and collapse of the core case of the state at trial and the preponderance of all the recent cases and the growing consensus on the law in this area).

    It may be SCOTUS has its own ideas of criteria for a stay. They might, for instance want for the district court rulings to be reviewed at the Circuit of Appeals. Of course Utah was an entirely different case as it was much earlier (ahead of a string of favorable rulings) and the State had got itself into a lot of difficulty. In this case the trial has resolved a lot of the issues that might be raised in the stay request.

  • 60. Zack12  |  March 22, 2014 at 2:43 pm

    Angering but let's face it, we all knew a stay would be coming at some point, I'm just glad some couples were able to get married before that happened.
    It should be noted they didn't respond to the stay right away even though they knew marriages were going to happen.
    I think that is telling of itself.

  • 61. Rick O.  |  March 22, 2014 at 3:27 pm

    Michigan AG Schuette is pointing to Utah about how those marriages are "invalid". What a guy – sounds like Putin.

  • 62. Colleen  |  March 22, 2014 at 3:31 pm

    That's not going to go over well, since the feds and the Utah tax board, among others, are treating them as totally valid.

  • 63. JimT  |  March 22, 2014 at 4:15 pm

    Michigan Marriages Stopped! UPDATE Saturday 5:31 p.m. After same-sex couples began to obtain marriage licenses and were married, the Sixth Circuit Court on Saturday afternoon temporarily blocked the judge’s order permitting those marriages. It did so to give the Circuit Court time to consider the state’s plea for a postponement during appeal. The Saturday order will keep the issue on hold through Wednesday; a response to the state’s plea is due Tuesday. News reports in Michigan said that more than 300 licenses were issued to gay or lesbian couples, and some 50 marriages were performed.


  • 64. Sagesse  |  March 23, 2014 at 11:09 am

    SCOTUSblog says 50 marriages occurred. I think they are referring to an article about 50 marriages in one county. Hard to believe in the circumstances most of the 323 who received licences didn't marry right away.

  • 65. Keith  |  March 23, 2014 at 11:20 am

    SCOTUS Blog is better at updating court filings than with current stats.

  • 66. Dann  |  March 22, 2014 at 5:24 pm

    There's now a hold for the hold? That's a new one.

  • 67. W. Kevin Vicklund  |  March 22, 2014 at 5:40 pm

    I just found out that the mother of one of my friends is the Ingham County clerk that was issuing the licenses today!

  • 68. Scottie Thomaston  |  March 22, 2014 at 7:30 pm


  • 69. Tim  |  March 23, 2014 at 9:41 am

    Pat: oral arguments for Louisiana plus the two cases have been combined. It's like sleuthing to find this info.

  • 70. Tim  |  March 23, 2014 at 10:53 am

    Pat: Arkansas #1 arguments scheduled for 4/17/14. I don't have a link to your spreadsheet to see if it's there.

  • 71. Pat  |  March 23, 2014 at 2:35 pm

    Thanks! Arkansas was already in, but I added the Louisiana dates in the spreadsheet.
    The link is here again: Please keep them coming!

    Actually, looking at these Louisiana cases, it seems that none of them targets the actual marriage ban (from
    However, this other site ( lists LA as a state with a marriage equality lawsuit. Is the map simply wrong of am I missing something?

  • 72. Pat  |  March 23, 2014 at 2:36 pm

    Sorry, the link to the spreadsheet was split in half. Here is it again:

  • 73. Tim  |  March 23, 2014 at 4:50 pm

    Pat: Idaho? You want to include this?: On 18 February 2014, the judge set 5 May 2014 for hearing the plaintiffs’ motion to skip the trial and issue a ruling.

  • 74. Pat  |  March 24, 2014 at 2:18 am

    Yup! Noted!
    Actually, even beyond the detailed briefing schedule, I wonder if there are any of these ME lawsuits where a ruling could be issued anytime (among all these states where it's hard to find detailed info, in particular NC, SC, WV, IN, MO AZ, CO, WY, AL, FL, maybe some of them have already had a hearing or might get a decision without trial?) I wonder if any of these states might be like Utah or Oklahoma or Texas, where a ruling is suddenly issued and many of us weren't even expecting an imminent ruling from these states.

  • 75. Tim  |  March 23, 2014 at 3:19 pm

    It looks like they're targeting respect for marriages performed in other states.

    Thanks for updating, and I've saved your link!

  • 76. MNbob  |  March 23, 2014 at 10:26 am

    Like f*$#ing clock work, it gets stayed. Why does every single time rights get granted in a ruling they get stayed? Prop 8 went into effect without being stayed. This is frustrating.

  • 77. Tim  |  March 23, 2014 at 5:07 pm

    Republican vs. Democratic judge nominees. Any theories why the Republican nominated judges (Vaughn Walker in Prop 8, Friedman in MI and Jones in PA) choose to hold bench trials and all the judges nominated by Democrats have just done hearings with no trials?

    Is it so the Republicans can show their due diligence for there likely critics and/or is it just in the conservative nature for a topic like this?

    It's only helped so far…

  • 78. Bruno71  |  March 23, 2014 at 5:12 pm

    Who knows, but my feeling is "conservative" with a small "c." I also have a feeling both wanted to hold the hearings to expose certain quackery from the likes of Regnerus.

  • 79. Zack12  |  March 23, 2014 at 6:03 pm

    I go with the theory that if they are going to overturn a state or federal law, especially one done with a popular vote they want a full record showing why they did it.

  • 80. ebohlman  |  March 24, 2014 at 1:19 pm

    Probably just a timing coincidence, with Shelby in UT being the outlier. CA was the first of its kind; MI, as of last October, was the farthest-along post-Windsor case, and PA would have been the next-farthest-along. Prudence would have dictated calling for trial for those reasons. Post-Kitchen, things have changed.

    Note that the judge in KY was also a Republican nominee and didn't hold a trial.

  • 81. montezuma58  |  March 23, 2014 at 6:40 pm

    The state will not recognize marriages while the stay is in effect.

  • 82. Ragavendran  |  March 25, 2014 at 9:09 am

    Several energetic updates:
    (1) Plaintiffs respond to emergency motion to stay:
    (2) Plaintiffs ask 6th Circuit to expedite the appeal
    (3) 6th Circuit simultaneously sets a regular (but swift) briefing schedule for the appeal:
    May 7: Appellant brief due from Michigan
    June 9: Appellee brief due from Plaintiffs

  • 83. Equality On TrialMichigan&hellip  |  August 7, 2014 at 12:45 am

    […] of the injunction until the case is resolved. Meanwhile, several county clerks in Michigan opted to open their offices and allow same-sex couples to marry; reports suggest about 300 couples got married on Saturday. The […]

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