It’s a long shot, but there is a chance.
If federal Judge Bernard Friedman overturns the same-sex marriage ban tomorrow, that could open a small window for Michigan’s same-sex couples to legally marry in this state.
How small would that window be? Teeny. Maybe just a few hours, maybe days.
That’s because a ruling against the marriage ban would be almost immediately appealed by Michigan’s attorney general, Bill Schuette. He’d also ask the appeals court to put a temporary freeze on Friedman’s ruling until the higher court decides the case.
But hey, a window’s a window.
So we sent out a Facebook post asking for stories from couples who are all but lacing up their running shoes to dash down the aisle, should the judge go their way.
And boy, did you respond. We don’t have enough room to publish them all, but here’s a sample, with only first names published.
“My partner [and I] have been together two and a half years. We’ve been engaged for quite a while, just waiting until marriage became legal in our beloved state. We would LOVE to jump on the opportunity should it arise in the next several days.” - Brandi
“My partner and I got married (not legally of course) August 17th of this year. We are waiting for
the MOMENT we can get married! This is so exciting! This would make our family valid and give some security to our child!” – Keegan
“My partner and I figured we’d have to plan a trip to New York to get married by the end of the year, how great if we could do it in our home state?! We’ve been together since 2002, and in 2009 we got tired of waiting and had a religious/spiritual ceremony – we call it our ‘illegal wedding.’” – Elon
“My husband and I…are on ‘standby,’ as are at least two other couples, waiting to hear the results of the marriage case in Michigan. Mike and I were married in…Ontario in 2010 and we’ve been waiting for this for a long time. This would allow me to provide my husband with healthcare coverage. We have Wednesday and Thursday blocked off…and plan to leave work immediately and get married.” – Nick
Some clerks, clergy already on standby
Meanwhile, a handful of county clerks, like Ingham County’s Barb Byrum, say they’re ready to get same-sex couples married as fast as possible.
Byrum says her office has the paperwork ready and clergy members standing by.
“We’re ready if Judge Friedman does strike down the ban, and a couple comes into [our office] for a license,” she says.
As for the three day waiting period typically required between getting a license and actually
marrying, Byrum says “in this case, I certainly would waive [that wait requirement].”
“I’ve been contacted by three couples already,” says Byrum. “And I have a feeling that between now and Wednesday, I’ll be contacted by several more.”
She says she’s happy to marry those couples herself.
But if a county clerk’s office isn’t your dream wedding destination, “the court house in Mason is also gorgeous,” Byrum says.
She also points out that under Michigan law, you must apply for a marriage license in the county where you live. If each partner lives in a different county, they can apply in either one.
Whatever the decision, legal fight will continue
No matter what, you can count on an appeal.
Attorney General Bill Schuette will keep fighting to uphold a 2004 vote making the Michigan Marriage Amendment part of the state’s constitution.
Ultimately, his defense comes down to one principle: this is about upholding “the laws of this
State and the will of its people – nothing more, nothing less. Those choices were not an attack on the gay and lesbian community, but rather a reaffirmation of the traditional definition of marriage as between a man and a woman. To suggest otherwise is to paint a majority of the State as bigots, which is both unfounded and inaccurate,” reads the state’s brief.
That same document also addresses the charge that the ban no longer reflects public opinion of same-sex marriage.
Even if that is the case, the defense argues that that doesn’t make this amendment unconstitutional:
“At best, it would make [the amendment] misaligned with public opinion, and there is an appropriate forum for remedying that – the democratic process – not this Court. Quite simply, Plaintiffs have chosen the wrong forum to effectuate the result they seek. It would be inappropriate for this Court to impose its will on the people of the State of Michigan.”