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BREAKING: Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals stays same-sex marriages in Michigan for now

LGBT Legal Cases Marriage equality Marriage Equality Trials

Michigan state sealThe Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals has just granted the request filed by state officials in Michigan to halt same-sex marriage in the state pending the outcome of their appeal. The district court had ruled in favor of the same-sex couple who filed the case, Jayne Rowse and April DeBoer. That judge declined to stay his order on his own, but the state went to the Sixth Circuit with the request, after they filed their notice of appeal.

The three-judge panel pointed to the Supreme Court’s recent stay in Kitchen v. Herbert, the challenge to Utah’s same-sex marriage ban:

In light of the Supreme Court’s issuance of a stay in a similar case, Herbert v. Kitchen, 134 S. Ct. 893 (2014), a stay of the district court’s order is warranted.

The judges who decided on the motion are Judge John Rogers, appointed by President George W. Bush, Judge Helene White, who was first nominated by President Bill Clinton and later by President George W. Bush when the Senate declined to act on her nomination, and District Court Judge Karen Caldwell, who’s also an appointee of President George W. Bush, sitting by designation.

The decision to halt marriages was 2-1: Judge White dissented, writing that “Michigan has not made the requisite showing” that a stay is warranted, and that the stay in Kitchen provides little guidance here.

The case will be heard in the Sixth Circuit in the coming months. The couple has asked the appeals court to put their case on a fast-track.

Thanks to Kathleen Perrin for this filing

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


  • 1. Ragavendran  |  March 25, 2014 at 3:38 pm

    White is also a Bush Jr. appointee. She was nominated first by Clinton, but never got appointed as the then republican-controlled Senate blocked her nomination. It was only in Bush Jr.'s term that she was re-nominated and then confirmed to the 6th Circuit:

  • 2. Scottie Thomaston  |  March 25, 2014 at 3:40 pm

    Ohh looks like you're right

  • 3. Ragavendran  |  March 25, 2014 at 3:49 pm

    Thanks Scottie. A minor point, but the article still says "appointed by President Bill Clinton" – it should read "nominated" 🙂

  • 4. Scottie Thomaston  |  March 25, 2014 at 3:57 pm

    Thanks, WordPress is being really frustrating right now. It keeps telling me that the version of the post I am looking at is older than the saved one, and I guess all my edits are not going through when I first try to update it. It happened with the title too – I changed it before I published but the old title showed up.

  • 5. Ragavendran  |  March 25, 2014 at 4:05 pm

    Ooh, that must be frustrating! I've had my moments with WordPress too. I'm a board member of Boulder County PFLAG and maintain our website through WordPress. Hope it sobers up soon 🙂

    (And sorry, I meant to up vote but ended up pressing the down vote button on my mobile browser! I'm pretty sure that's not what's happening to my posts though!)

  • 6. Dann  |  March 25, 2014 at 3:38 pm

    What a bunch of A-HOLES!

  • 7. Ragavendran  |  March 25, 2014 at 3:39 pm

    Perhaps now, the motion to expedite the appeal will be granted, if the panel wants to truly follow the path laid by Kitchen.

  • 8. Scottie Thomaston  |  March 25, 2014 at 3:50 pm

    I hope so. It would be nice to have a few of these decided by the end of summer.

  • 9. Pat  |  March 25, 2014 at 3:57 pm

    To what extent would it speed things up, actually?
    Now that they have set the briefing schedule (as you mentioned in a previous thread, thanks!), would it just be that the oral arguments would be likely scheduled shortly afterwards (July or so) and if the motion is NOT granted, then it probably wouldn't be heard before the fall?
    Or if the motion is granted, would they actually accelerate their briefing schedule?

    Btw, wasn't the Ninth circuit appeal also set on an expedited track? Hem…

  • 10. Scottie Thomaston  |  March 25, 2014 at 4:00 pm

    Ninth Circuit appeal wasn't expedited.

    And yes, granting the order to expedite would move the briefing schedule up so that it's finished earlier.

  • 11. ebohlman  |  March 25, 2014 at 4:17 pm

    But by how much? Defendant-appellee's brief is scheduled for May 7. I have a hard time believing they'd allow less than 30 days, so we're really talking about moving things up by at most two weeks.

  • 12. Ragavendran  |  March 25, 2014 at 4:40 pm

    True, but with an expedited schedule, extension requests are "strongly discouraged", so we'll not see repeated requests of month-long extensions being granted without serious scrutiny like what happened in Sevcik.

  • 13. ebohlman  |  March 25, 2014 at 5:52 pm

    Extension requests were strongly discouraged in Kitchen

  • 14. Ragavendran  |  March 25, 2014 at 6:04 pm

    True, but they were 10-day extensions, and didn't affect the oral argument schedule. I was talking about the back to back, 1-month long extension requests of the kind granted in Sevcik.

  • 15. Ragavendran  |  March 25, 2014 at 4:11 pm

    Yes, the 9th circuit only agreed to expedite the calendaring of oral argument. Looks like the clerk assigned to this calendaring job, after briefly wrongly scheduling it, has dozed off. Somebody should wake them up.

    The current briefing schedule looks efficient enough for oral arguments to be held late Summer and a decision handed down by late Fall, but there would be something closer to a "guarantee" of swift disposition if the appeal is officially expedited. And yes, briefing deadlines would move up if the motion is granted.

  • 16. Dr. Z  |  March 25, 2014 at 4:53 pm

    Re: the Ninth circuit appeal, you may be thinking of the Prop 8 case, which was "expedited" (bitterly ironic, since even then it took them 18 months.)

  • 17. Ragavendran  |  March 25, 2014 at 6:25 pm

    Yeah, they are the most inefficient circuit. Agreed, the Prop 8 appeal raised issues that required them to tap the California Supreme Court's shoulders, but still, 18 months for an expedited appeal is ridiculous!

  • 18. Fr. Bill  |  March 25, 2014 at 3:45 pm

    Judicial appointments are part of the political process. Elections have consequences. So get out your checkbooks, volunteer for campaigns, VOTE and get all your friends and family to do the same. Given my profession, I know that justice comes only when we do the hard ethical work to know it and have the courage and determination to bring it into being.

  • 19. Steve  |  March 25, 2014 at 3:55 pm

    Gay means stay

  • 20. JimT  |  March 25, 2014 at 4:27 pm

    "Stay The Gay" this should be a sequel to Prop 8 the Musical

  • 21. Rick O.  |  March 25, 2014 at 4:04 pm

    I guess two out of three judges just aren't curious. I like White's approach – the 4 part test isn't met and the Supremes made no comment before, so why not poke 'em with a sharp stick and see if they come out from behind their curtain? Maybe not proper judicial comportment, but what the hell, Scalia started it.

  • 22. StraightDave  |  March 25, 2014 at 6:52 pm

    They should have told SCOTUS to explain their stay opinions or keep them to itself like that Oklahoma Judge did.

  • 23. Terry  |  March 25, 2014 at 4:53 pm

    Do we know if it will be these same 3 judges for the hearing?

  • 24. Scottie Thomaston  |  March 25, 2014 at 5:41 pm

    I think it's different. I think these judges specifically decide motions like this.

  • 25. Keith  |  March 26, 2014 at 9:52 am

    Is it the chief judge who assigns the three judges that will sit on the panel to hear the case or is it some type of other draw?

  • 26. Tina  |  March 25, 2014 at 5:01 pm

    So this "temp" stay ends Friday unless the SCOTUS grants an extended stay?

  • 27. Scottie Thomaston  |  March 25, 2014 at 5:41 pm

    No, this one lasts until the appeal is over, unfortunately.

  • 28. Dr. Z  |  March 25, 2014 at 5:04 pm

    So I wonder if it's our turn to appeal the stay to SCOTUS. It would go to Kagan this time. That could get interesting if she was in the minority on the Kitchen stay.

  • 29. Tina  |  March 25, 2014 at 5:13 pm

    Honey she'd just have the whole court decide.

  • 30. Zack12  |  March 25, 2014 at 5:35 pm

    Sad to say but we all knew that was coming. As someone else said gay means stay.
    As for the 6th circuit, George W was able to put eight picks on there, so it wouldn't shock me if we get a negative ruling in that regards.
    Marriage equality will be getting heard by the Supremes next term, simple as that.

  • 31. Jesse  |  March 25, 2014 at 7:49 pm

    There are varying challenges on Marriage Equality going through the courts but rarely do I see them challenge the DOMA article 2 reference? They seem to be going after the state bans on marriage equality based on due process. If SCOTUS chooses to hear state bans on marriage equality based on the 14th, does that essentially render Article 2 of DOMA null and void or would it have to be directly challenged?

  • 32. W. Kevin Vicklund  |  March 25, 2014 at 9:12 pm

    It would render DOMA Section 2 unenforceable*. As a side note, DOMA Section 2 is only unconstitutional to the extent that SSM bans are unconstitutional. By that, I mean that the Constitution gives Congress the power to determine how *and whether* the states have to give full faith and credit.

    *if a state tried to rely on it to deny recognition of out-of-state SSM after SCOTUS struck down state marriage equality bans, the resulting lawsuit would be quickly disposed of in favor of ME through preliminary injunctions, summary judgments, and denial of cert. No trials, no stays.

  • 33. grod  |  March 26, 2014 at 10:31 am

    Good review of Section 2 DOMA importance [or NOT] in OK's Judge T Kean's decision Bishop and Barton . Check footnote 12.

  • 34. Chad  |  March 26, 2014 at 5:35 am

    marriage equality will NOT be heard by the Supremes next term, it's as simple as THAT Zack. I wish people would quit saying that and giving everyone false hope. No Circuit is going to rule against marriage equality now. The Supremes will be happy to sit back and let Circuit after Circuit rule in favor of marriage equality so they don't have to. And frankly, that's the way it should be. Everyone needs to get a grip – this is NOT going to the Supreme Court next term. No way, no how!

  • 35. Lee  |  March 26, 2014 at 6:11 am

    On the other hand there is a chance ME will be heard by SCOTUS next term. The wins in the district courts are easier than they are at the appellate level because plaintiffs often have the ability to seek out sympathetic judges at the district court level, but that ability largely disappears at the appellate level.

  • 36. Zack12  |  March 26, 2014 at 6:52 am

    Indeed, it is a luck of the draw.
    There are Mormons and Religious right judges on several of the circuits that would have no qualms ignoring the strong rulings the district judges made and would simply agree with what the anti-gay side said even though they have been discredited.
    This is espcially true of a lot of the George Jr appointees who will simply pull rulings out of thin air to support their far right leanings. That is the worst part of his legacy.
    So claiming victory right now is premature.

  • 37. Michael Grabow  |  March 26, 2014 at 7:24 am

    Not to say it being delayed any further is acceptable, but we can revel in the fact that our eventual victory is inevitable.

  • 38. Samantha  |  March 26, 2014 at 9:01 am

    Well inevitability may depend on the next election… if an ultimate decision by the Supremes is delayed 2 years or more (very likely) and a republican is elected president (with Republicans controlling the senate) guess who will be replacing Ginsberg, Kennedy, etc… it will mark a vastly different legal landscape…

  • 39. Terry  |  March 26, 2014 at 9:12 am

    2 years or more? Not impossible but I wouldn't say "very likely".

  • 40. davep  |  March 26, 2014 at 10:29 am

    Indeed, Samantha.


  • 41. JayJonson  |  March 26, 2014 at 10:53 am

    We need to vote in both 2014 and 2016. I am pretty sure that Hillary will win the presidency in 2016, but it will be very dangerous for glbtq progress if the Republicans win control of the Senate in 2014. That danger is quite real. Nate Silver recently said that the odds of the Republicans capturing the Senate is 60%.

  • 42. davep  |  March 26, 2014 at 10:32 am

    Chad, I'm curious about how you can be so sure that all of the circuits will rule in our favor. I think it would be great if they did, but I'm wondering if there's justification for being so sure about this.

  • 43. Zack12  |  March 26, 2014 at 10:44 am

    There isn't. It's all the luck of the draw and you know that if we get one of the Mormons, that is an automatic no vote.

  • 44. ragefirewolf  |  March 26, 2014 at 8:46 am

    Does anyone have a link to the updated map of court decisions? It would help to have a visual aid

  • 45. Pat  |  March 26, 2014 at 2:11 pm

    You mean that map?

    Or in table format:

  • 46. ragefirewolf  |  March 26, 2014 at 8:47 pm

    Thank you, Pat! That's the one!!!

  • 47. Rick O.  |  March 26, 2014 at 10:13 am

    I'll go with Zack's "premature", having read some of the Supreme's questions in Hobby Lobby yesrterday. That is shaping up to be a disaster ?? As much as constitutional law is supposed to be based on reason and , well, the Constitution, when it smacks up against religion (based on superstition and non-rational "beliefs" and "faith"), watch out. "Religious freedom" leads inevitably to Scalia's "simple moral disapproval".

  • 48. Zack12  |  March 26, 2014 at 10:43 am

    We know the marriage equality ruling will be 5-4. Roberts showed how he views marriage equality by voting to uphold DOMA.
    But when it comes to "religious freedom" and businesses who knows how Kennedy will rule on that when the issue comes before them.

  • 49. Same-Sex Marriage Quandar&hellip  |  March 28, 2014 at 3:49 pm

    […] light of the 6th Circuit’s recent stay on the district court’s opinion overturning Michigan’s law barring same-sex marriage […]

  • 50. Policy and Legal Update &&hellip  |  April 30, 2014 at 10:24 am

    […] MICHIGAN • On 25 March 2014, in April DeBoer & Jayne Rowse v. MI Governor Rick Snyder, et al.,a challenge to the MI laws that deny adoption to certified foster parents when they are not married, the 6th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals stayed the district court ruling pending the outcome of the MI appeal.  • MEUSA Summary  •  News Source […]

  • 51. Equality On TrialACLU of &hellip  |  August 7, 2014 at 1:01 am

    […] Michigan officials won’t recognize them until after the appeal process is over because of the Sixth Circuit’s stay. That new position on the issue might help in a potential challenge:The ACLU of Michigan is […]

  • 52. Equality On TrialMichigan&hellip  |  August 7, 2014 at 2:03 am

    […] after the district court’s ruling that struck down Michigan’s ban, but before the Sixth Circuit issued a stay, are legal marriages. Even so, Michigan won’t allow marriage rights to be given to those […]

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