Sixth Circuit: No Same-Sex Marriages In Michigan During Appeal

CREDIT: AP Photo/Paul Sancya.

April DeBoer and Jayne Rowse, plaintiffs in the case, will have to keep fighting for their family's legal protection.

In a 2-1 ruling, a Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals panel ruled Tuesday that the marriage equality decision in Michigan will be stayed as the appeals process proceeds in the case. The majority cited the Supreme Court’s decision to similarly stay the decision in Utah (Kitchen v. Herbert), recognizing that the circumstances were the same in Michigan.

Circuit Judge Helene White, dissenting, pointed out that no justification was ever given for the Supreme Court’s stay. By her assessment, Michigan has not proven that it will suffer irreparable harm or that its appeal has a likelihood of success on the merits:

Michigan has not made the requisite showing. Although the Supreme Court stayed the permanent injunction issued by the Utah District Court in Kitchen v. Herbert pending final disposition by the Tench Circuit, it did so without a statement of reasons, and therefore the order provides little guidance. I would therefore apply the traditional four-factor test, which leads me to conclude that a stay is not warranted.

The stay does not dictate the fate of the 300 same-sex couples who married on Saturday during the short window it was legal for them to do so. Michigan has not clearly explained how it plans to treat those unions while the appeals process proceeds. The ACLU is planning legal challenges if the state rejects their validity in the interim.

Meanwhile, more than 14,000 individuals have signed an online petition organized by Equality Michigan asking Gov. Rick Snyder (R) and Attorney General Bill Schuette (R) to drop their appeal and let the decision stand. Schuette, who is campaigning for reelection, has remained committed to defending the anti-gay amendment, referring to the stay as being part of an “orderly process.”