Shortly after 5:00pm Eastern today United States District Court Judge Bernard Friedman ruled that Michigan’s law prohibiting same-sex marriage was unconstitutional. The ruling follows trends set in cases in Utah, Oklahoma, Texas, and Virginia.
Plaintiffs Jayne Rowse and April DeBoer want to get married, but that wasn’t what prompted their suit. The lawsuit, filed in 2012, was intended to overturn Michigan’s ban on joint adoptions by same-sex couples. The couple is currently raising three special needs children that they have adopted individually, but they can’t jointly adopt each other’s children because Michigan law restricts joint adoption to married couples.
State attorneys, while admitting that the plaintiffs were great parents, asked the court to uphold the results of a 2004 election in which 59% of Michigan voters passed a law declaring marriage to be exclusively between one man and one woman. Conservative scholars, however, questioned the impact of same-sex parenting on children. Mark Regnerus, sociology professor at the University of Texas, was one such scholar.
Several experts testifying for the plaintiff argued that are virtually no differences between the children of same sex parents and those of one man-one woman families. The University of Texas also weighed in, disavowing the testimony of Regnerus.
There is no indication of a stay of execution being ordered pending appeal by the State of Michigan, however, as the ruling was issued after 5:00pm when county offices close no marriage licenses have been issued as of yet.