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Same-sex couple in Michigan seeks fast-tracked appeal of same-sex marriage case in Sixth Circuit

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UPDATE (1) 1:00PM ET: Oakland County Clerk Lisa Brown filed her own motion opposing a stay of the district court decision. Also, the Sixth Circuit has issued a briefing schedule in the case. The briefing schedule seems to have been issued before the appeals court considered the motion for a fast-tracked hearing, meaning that the court could alter this current schedule. This schedule has the first brief (from the state) due on May 7, the second brief (from the same-sex couple) due by June 9, and an optional reply brief to be filed 17 days after the same-sex couple’s brief. EqualityOnTrial will report any changes to the schedule.

UPDATE (2) 1:45PM ET The state has filed its reply brief in its request for a stay. In addition to arguing that the Sixth Circuit should grant a stay, they also request extra time to appeal any stay denial to the Supreme Court: “In any event, and out of an abundance of caution, if this Court decides to deny a stay that would last for the duration of the appeal, the State Defendants ask the Court to grant a temporary stay, for two days, until Friday, March 28, 2014. This temporary stay would give the Supreme Court time, as this Court put it in its own order granting a temporary stay, for “a more reasoned consideration” of the emergency motion that the State would immediately file asking the Supreme Court to stay the judgment.”

April DeBoer and Jayne Rowse, the same-sex couple who challenged Michigan’s ban on same-sex marriage and adoption, are asking the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals to put their case on a fast-track, and to deny the state’s request to stay the district court’s order striking down the ban.

The state filed the request for a stay in the wrong court, the couple argues. The state went directly to the Sixth Circuit instead of first asking the district court judge who presided over the challenge to stay his own decision. They argue that “[t]here has been no showing whatever that Judge Friedman would not have been in a position to consider such a motion promptly and no showing whatever that he would not have, in fact, promptly considered such a motion; to the contrary, there is every reason to believe that Judge Friedman would have promptly considered” a motion filed by state officials.

Moreover, they suggest, the state’s framing of the decision in the case as “redefining marriage” is inaccurate:

Granting same-sex couples the right to marry no more redefines marriage than granting women’s suffrage redefined voting or ending segregation in public accommodations redefined eating in restaurants or ending the ban on inter-racial marriages redefined marriage.

And since the Supreme Court issued the stay in Kitchen v. Herbert, challenging Utah’s same-sex marriage ban, circumstances have changed. Five federal courts have ruled on different aspects of same-sex marriage bans, and all five ruled in favor of the same-sex couples. Given those facts, and the fact that every federal court has ruled in favor of same-sex couples since Windsor, DeBoer and Rowse have a strong likelihood of succeeding in the appeal.

Their request for a fast-tracked appeal notes that other appeals courts have granted requests to expedite same-sex marriage cases. And though the Sixth Circuit denied a request to expedite a same-sex marriage case from Ohio, “the question in Obergefell [the Ohio case] is whether the State of Ohiomust recognize valid out-of-state marriages on death certificates; the absence of expedited consideration in Obergefell does not deprive adults of the right to marry pending appeal, nor does it leave minor children vulnerable for an extended periodof time as would be the case if expedited consideration were denied in the instant matter.”

All states within the jurisdiction of the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals have same-sex marriage cases pending in the appeals court. The Fourth, Fifth, Ninth, and Tenth Circuits will hear marriage cases as well.

Thanks to Kathleen Perrin for these filings

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


  • 1. Ragavendran  |  March 25, 2014 at 9:19 am

    While it considers the motion to expedite appeal, the 6th Circuit has also set a (regular, but swift) briefing schedule (Appellant brief due May 7, Appellee brief due June 9):

  • 2. Michael Grabow  |  March 25, 2014 at 9:22 am

    I'm liking everything I'm reading.

  • 3. Keith  |  March 25, 2014 at 10:02 am

    Wow! “overlook the fact that in Lawrence v. Texas, the Supreme Court stressed that “our laws and tradition afford constitutional protection to personal decisions relating to marriage, procreation, contraception, family relationships, child rearing, and education … Persons in a homosexual relationship may seek autonomy for these purposes, just as heterosexual persons do,” and that, as noted by Justice Scalia in his dissent in Lawrence, that decision alone “dismantles the structure of constitutional law that has permitted a distinction to be made between heterosexual and homosexual unions, insofar as formal recognition of marriage is concerned”; page 10

  • 4. Ragavendran  |  March 25, 2014 at 10:51 am

    Unrelated, but potentially of enormous significance to the constitutionality of the latest "religious freedom" defense: report on oral argument this morning at SCOTUS on the Hobby Lobby case:
    Once again, it comes down to Kennedy, who seemed split himself during the proceedings.

  • 5. JimT  |  March 25, 2014 at 12:44 pm

    Let us hope Kennedy and the liberal Supremes keep the lid closed on that Pandora's Box. If SCOTUS rules in favor of Hobby Lobby even with a narrow ruling you can bet somewhere down the line LBGT people will have another fight to deal with.

  • 6. Bruno71  |  March 25, 2014 at 1:41 pm

    I expect we'll keep having that fight anyway, it would just make it a lot harder on our side.

  • 7. Rick O.  |  March 25, 2014 at 1:43 pm

    FightS, plural. If Hobby Lobby goes the wrong way, it will be open season on gays and atheists for years to come, with never an ENDA. Remember those ancient cannibal cartoons from the 40's and 50's with the dancing, bone-pierced tribesmen? We'll be the guy in the pot.

  • 8. Steve  |  March 25, 2014 at 2:51 pm

    It doesn't look good. Kennedy compared contraception to abortion when he said that companies could then be forced to pay for abortions. And he hates abortion. He also completely overlooked that the companies don't directly pay for any medical procedures. Just for insurance.

  • 9. Steve  |  March 25, 2014 at 2:50 pm

    It's a myth that Kennedy is a liberal. He is also a right-wing nut (just not as crazy as Scalito). Except on gay issues.

  • 10. Scottie Thomaston  |  March 25, 2014 at 3:52 pm

    I agree, I am not a fan of Kennedy. I don't understand the appeal. He even writes confusingly. I'm grateful for his fifth vote on gay issues but he is bad on just about everything else, including racial issues and womens' rights.

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

    When is a ruling expected in that Hobby Lobby case?

  • 12. Scottie Thomaston  |  March 25, 2014 at 3:51 pm

    By late June.

  • 13. Ragavendran  |  March 25, 2014 at 3:51 pm

    By June, as always, but usually in these high-profile cases, with oral arguments heard in late March, I'd say probably during the last week of June.

  • 14. Pat  |  March 25, 2014 at 4:11 pm


  • 15. erasure25  |  March 25, 2014 at 10:55 am

    The silence of the tea party movement on states wasting millions of tax payer money on bringing discredited "experts" to the witness stand and litigating based on illogical and unconstitutional arguments is deafening. Really shows that the tea party is NOT about economics but just another fringe wing of the radical right.

  • 16. SoCal_Dave  |  March 25, 2014 at 11:40 am

    "Granting same-sex couples the right to marry no more redefines marriage than granting women’s suffrage redefined voting or ending segregation in public accommodations redefined eating in restaurants or ending the ban on inter-racial marriages redefined marriage."
    This should be repeated in every case.

  • 17. Rakihi  |  March 25, 2014 at 12:01 pm

    But…but…If women are allowed to vote, men might feel that the power of their votes are being diluted, or maybe the feminization of the voting booth might cause men to devalue electoral democracy and cause them to shun voting altogether. It'll be chaos, I tell you!

  • 18. Rose  |  March 25, 2014 at 12:18 pm

    Oh the chaos…….lol!!!

  • 19. Rick O.  |  March 25, 2014 at 1:48 pm

    I doubt it. I was raised in Chicago and found dead people voting did not discourage live voters from wanting to vote – at least twice a day.

  • 20. Michael Grabow  |  March 25, 2014 at 12:55 pm

    But, what's next?? Four year olds voting?? Squirrels voting?!! Toasters?!?!?

  • 21. Bruno71  |  March 25, 2014 at 1:43 pm

    Electric blankets being allowed to order filet mignon in any section they please?

  • 22. ebohlman  |  March 25, 2014 at 2:06 pm

    The Chicago Cubs winning the Super Bowl?

  • 23. SoCal_Dave  |  March 25, 2014 at 1:20 pm

    Oh, dear. We also forgot to take into account the likelihood that women voting will surely lead to men wanting anal sex with their wives (who they won't have because it turns them away from marriage). And next thing you know I'll be voting for my dog. Oh the chaos, indeed!

  • 24. Ragavendran  |  March 25, 2014 at 3:09 pm

    BREAKING: Stay pending appeal GRANTED. It is revealed that two Circuit Judges (Rogers and White) and one Chief District Judge for the Eastern District of Kentucky (Caldwell, sitting by designation) had been considering the emergency motion; all three are Bush Jr. appointees. Two were in favor (John Rogers and Karen Caldwell), and one against (Helene White).

    Basically, Rogers and Caldwell say that since SCOTUS stayed Kitchen, the 6th must stay DeBoer. The dissent recorded by White took issue with the fact that SCOTUS did not explain their reasoning behind their stay in Kitchen, and so the traditional four-factor test should apply, according to which a stay is not warranted.

  • 25. Ragavendran  |  March 25, 2014 at 3:33 pm

    I don't get why someone is deliberately down-voting my updates on EoT. This is the fourth time today. Is it wrong for me to post comments about the latest updates on cases before the EoT team does? Really, I don't mean any offense to Scottie and the others on the team who are doing such an awesome job discussing these developments in a timely manner. To the contrary, I'm just trying to help. Whoever is doing this, please come forth and let me know what is it that you think I'm doing wrong.

  • 26. Scottie Thomaston  |  March 25, 2014 at 3:54 pm

    I don't know who's down-voting you, either. But no, it's not against the "rules" to post comments with breaking news. There are a bunch of times we first hear the news FROM the comments. So we're thankful.

  • 27. Ragavendran  |  March 25, 2014 at 3:58 pm

    Thanks for your support, Scottie. And, you're most welcome!

  • 28. Rik  |  March 25, 2014 at 4:07 pm

    It's possible someone tried to like on a mobile phone and accidentally hit dislike. I've done that before
    On my iPhone and there's no way to undo

  • 29. Ragavendran  |  March 25, 2014 at 4:14 pm

    I've considered it, and it is certainly possible. I myself just did that to Scottie just now in another thread!!! But four times in a row, consistently, makes me think otherwise…

  • 30. Dr. Z  |  March 25, 2014 at 4:57 pm

    There are also trolls to consider.

  • 31. Michael  |  March 25, 2014 at 4:06 pm

    I don't know and I don't mind. So I'll politely go to your update now and vote it up. That will counteract one down vote.

  • 32. Ragavendran  |  March 25, 2014 at 4:16 pm

    Thanks Michael. I guess I'll have to learn to ignore such things. Once, twice, thrice I did that. The fourth time was too much for me and I burst into flames!

  • 33. Pat  |  March 25, 2014 at 4:19 pm

    Hang in there, Raga, it's all gonna be fine! 😉
    Keep the comments coming, I'm a fan

  • 34. Ragavendran  |  March 25, 2014 at 4:23 pm

    Thanks Pat 🙂

  • 35. Tim  |  March 25, 2014 at 8:08 pm

    Yes, please keep them coming. You give great updates and know you're stuff so I ( and I bet others) learn and get good info from you and your posts.

    We need you these next several months.


  • 36. Ragavendran  |  March 25, 2014 at 9:29 pm

    You're welcome! Thanks for the encouragement!

  • 37. Dr. Z  |  March 25, 2014 at 5:00 pm

    Regarding down voting – some people have a tendency to shoot the messenger. The news from the Sixth circuit was unwelcome, hense the down-voting. It happens, don't take it personally.

  • 38. Deeelaaach  |  March 28, 2014 at 1:39 am

    Yup. And they could down vote you if they disagree slightly on some small aspect of your post. Personally I try not to shoot messengers, and I appreciate all the information – good and bad – that I can get! So please, keep it coming!

  • 39. JimT  |  March 25, 2014 at 4:22 pm

    I just gave you a "mercy vote" up 🙂 Your posts and a few others' are good reads. On some political/advocacy/ discussion boards and forums it is not uncommon for trolls to down vote people's comments and replies.

  • 40. Ragavendran  |  March 25, 2014 at 4:26 pm

    Thank you, JimT! I'm reminded of this famous poem 🙂

  • 41. Equality On TrialBREAKING&hellip  |  March 25, 2014 at 3:30 pm

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