Federal Appeals Court Puts Indefinite Stay on Ruling Striking Down Michigan Gay Marriage Ban

The Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals voted 2-1 on Tuesday to place a stay on U.S. District Judge Bernard Friedman's ruling last week striking down the state's gay marriage ban, the Detroit Free Press reports.

"When those arguments will be heard is uncertain," the Detroit News adds.

MichiganChris Geidner at Buzzfeed adds:

The three-judge panel to consider the state’s request was split 2-1 on the request, with Circuit Judge John Rogers and U.S. District Court Judge Karen Caldwell ruling in favor of the stay and Circuit Judge Helene White opposing the stay.

Referencing the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in January to halt same-sex couples’ marriages in Utah with a stay during the appeal of the marriage case there, the court opinion stated, “There is no apparent basis to distinguish this case or to balance the equities any differently than the Supreme Court did in [the Utah case]. Furthermore, several district courts that have struck down laws prohibiting same-sex marriage similar to the Michigan amendment at issue here have also granted requests for stays made by state defendants.”

White, however, wrote that in her examination of the factors to consider when deciding whether to grant a stay, she concluded that “a stay is not warranted.”

Hundreds of gay couples were married over the weekend following the ruling when four Michigan county clerks opened their offices and began issuing marriage licenses.

You may have missed this MICHIGAN info...
Governor: Michigan to Hold Off on Recognizing Gay Marriages Performed Over Weekend
Michigan's Marriage Equality Ruling: A Summary and Analysis [tlrd]
Federal Appeals Court Suspends Gay Marriages in Michigan Until at Least Wednesday [tlrd]
Here is Joyful Video of the First Gay Marriages in Michigan: WATCH [tlrd]
First Gay Couple Marries in Ingham County, Michigan: PHOTO [tlrd]
At Least Four Michigan Counties to Issue Marriage Licenses to Gay Couples Today [tlrd]
Federal Judge Strikes Down Michigan's Ban on Gay Marriage: VIDEO [tlrd]

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Comments

  1. odd choice for a photo, as if the couple is celebrating the decision.

    Posted by: Steve | Mar 25, 2014 6:33:42 PM


  2. @ a Steve

    My thoughts exactly.

    Posted by: Brian W. | Mar 25, 2014 6:39:25 PM


  3. Seriously, this is really bad. And, there's no editorial here about why the decision is bad. Before posting legal stuff - maybe always check with Ari Ezra Waldman...

    Posted by: nycguy | Mar 25, 2014 6:40:26 PM


  4. With the Utah case, the appellate court's decision not to stay the decision in favor of the plaintiffs was overridden by the US Supreme Court, which granted the stay. From that decision, we can wisely infer that the US Supreme Court wants courts to stay favorable decisions for marriage equality, and does not want couples getting married based on these decisions upon all legal options are exhausted. In the case where the state or other parties can appeal rulings in favorable rulings, it means that the stay will remain in place until the US Supreme Court rules on the matter or denies cert. In states where no one will defend anti-gay marriage laws after a favorable decision, the last decision will become the ruling law.

    Posted by: Javier | Mar 25, 2014 6:44:17 PM


  5. With the Utah case, the appellate court's decision not to stay the decision in favor of the plaintiffs was overridden by the US Supreme Court, which granted the stay. From that decision, we can wisely infer that the US Supreme Court wants courts to stay favorable decisions for marriage equality, and does not want couples getting married based on these decisions upon all legal options are exhausted. In the case where the state or other parties can appeal rulings in favorable rulings, it means that the stay will remain in place until the US Supreme Court rules on the matter or denies cert. In states where no one will defend anti-gay marriage laws after a favorable decision, the last decision will become the ruling law.

    Posted by: Javier | Mar 25, 2014 6:44:17 PM


  6. justice delayed is justice denied. and so in the words of the great panti bliss: "and that feels oppressive."

    Posted by: jed | Mar 25, 2014 7:07:27 PM


  7. This isn't very surprising given the Supreme Court stay on marriages in the Utah case. The difference here is that there was a trial (which went disastrously for the state), but 2 out of 3 obviously felt hemmed in by the Utah stay. The dissenter had it right--since the Supreme Court didn't offer guidance for their stay in Utah, they needn't have followed it here since there was no reasoning to follow, and, as she said, the factors for a stay weren't met.

    All the more reason for these cases to be expedited. The married same-sex couples in Michigan shouldn't have to wait for the state to honor their marriages, and those who didn't marry--like the plaintiffs--deserve quick justice. Meanwhile, if the federal government does what it did in Utah, those 300-ish marriages should receive federal recognition.

    Posted by: Ernie | Mar 25, 2014 7:35:27 PM


  8. I thought they might do that.

    But I think this case is distinguishable, because the children are plaintiffs. That is, their parents are not there only on their own behalf, but "as parent[s] and next friend[s] of N.D.-R, R.D.-R., and J.D.-R, minors".

    Is that true of any other marriage case?

    Posted by: Randy | Mar 25, 2014 7:39:54 PM


  9. Institutional discrimination. Justice delayed is justice denied. Why am I taxed to pay for this?

    Posted by: Nigel | Mar 25, 2014 7:44:25 PM


  10. I feel sorry for American gays. Those who believe there will be equality accross the US by 2016 are dreaming in technicolor I think.

    Honestly, I don't think there will ever be equality for gays in America. Humanity will go extinct before there could ever be a chance for that.

    Posted by: Green | Mar 25, 2014 8:20:53 PM


  11. This essentially establishes that there's a secret rule for stays that applies to gays and a separate rule that applies to everyone else. The court quite disingenuously claims that by deferring to the Supreme Court's action in the Utah case, it is following the standard, four-pronged test for deciding stays. SCOTUS didn't explain how it decided the Utah stay. There's no indication that they applied the standard test, and there's good reason to think that they didn't: every court that has applied that test and detailed its reasoning, has ruled in favor if marriage equality proponents. Every court that has stayed marriage wins has done so without explanation. No court has spelled out how the standard test favors staying marriage equality wins.

    Posted by: JJ | Mar 25, 2014 8:21:49 PM


  12. Agree, @JJ. Judge Helene got it just right in her efficient dissent.

    @Green: Full LGBT-equality by 2016, you may be right. But marriage equality by then, very possible. Despite the stays, these cases are moving quickly and in our favor. So, unless you're a concern troll, you needn't feel too sorry.

    Posted by: Ernie | Mar 25, 2014 8:49:53 PM


  13. What is it with all the stupid comments? Y'all need to simmer down now. For real.

    Posted by: Josh | Mar 25, 2014 9:02:07 PM


  14. @JJ - SCOTUS may not have explained why they issued their stay, but the appeals court has no choice but to follow their lead when the case under consideration is nearly identical.

    Personally, I think the SCOTUS stay is a tip of their hand. They are almost certainly not going to strike down gay-"marriage" bans, so the first factor for granting a stay (likelihood of success) weighs so heavily in favor of the states that it outweighs all other considerations.

    Posted by: TKinSC | Mar 25, 2014 11:45:50 PM


  15. Let's see what is the meaning of "likelihood of success". I would say even if the probability is 50/50 if you understand what probability mean, the SC will issue a stay for the reason of fairness.
    "They are almost certainly not going to strike down gay-"marriage" bans"
    is pure nonsense.
    It is even possible if the state has a less than 50/50 chance, the SC still will issue a stay to allow for the margin of error.

    Posted by: simon | Mar 25, 2014 11:57:01 PM


  16. Instead of pulling something out of your axx, , let look at a previous case, the prop 8 case.
    In 2010, the Ninth Circuit of Appeals stayed district court Walker's decision. It didn't mean the Prop 8 proponents had a good chance to win. The Appeal Court eventually upheld Walker's decision. It was only after the 2013 June Supreme Court decision that the stay was finally lifted.
    These are facts.

    Posted by: simon | Mar 26, 2014 12:24:05 AM


  17. The religious right is evil evil evil (as is religion in general).
    I see Green's point.
    And the big problem is that not only is the religious right evil they are powerful. A very good indication of that is the fact that one church over the course of one weekend in March had $600,000 stolen from its coffers. Do the math guys. Evil + money = trouble.
    Endless trouble.

    Posted by: mike | Mar 26, 2014 2:25:06 AM


  18. @green. i know it feeds your condescension towards the usa, but your exaggerated pessimism is laughable.

    Posted by: jaker | Mar 26, 2014 2:31:03 AM


  19. "SCOTUS may not have explained why they issued their stay, but the appeals court has no choice but to follow their lead when the case under consideration is nearly identical."

    If that were true, the decision would have been unanimous. Indeed, it might never have made it to the circuit court, because the district court would likewise have had no choice.

    "Personally, I think the SCOTUS stay is a tip of their hand."

    That seems like wishful thinking. Justice Scalia thought the Windsor decision tipped the court's hand, and in the opposite direction. So on the one hand we have a sitting justice and his impression, based on private conversations with fellow justices plus a twenty-six page decision in which they explain their reasoning. On the other hand we have an anonymous internet commenter who somehow got the opposite impression--which happens to confirm his own opinion--based on an unexplained order that a federal judge said "provides little guidance." Which impression would you trust?

    Also, I wouldn't assume that SCOTUS will even take up a marriage case. As you're fond of pointing out, the court said in Windsor that "'regulation of domestic relations' is 'an area that has long been regarded as a virtually exclusive province of the States'." They went on to observe that "[m]arriage laws may vary from State to State." Thus, it seems SCOTUS is perfectly content for different states to have different laws. It's not a stretch then to think they wouldn't be too concerned if some circuits had overturned marriage bans and some hadn't, especially if all circuits that do rule on the matter reach the same conclusion.

    Posted by: JJ | Mar 26, 2014 3:31:53 AM


  20. @JJ

    "Justice Scalia thought the Windsor decision tipped the court's hand, and in the opposite direction."

    Sure, and Justice Roberts disagreed with him. Suffice it to say that if Scalia were right, then a stay would be not only unjustified but unconscionable. Why deny constitutional rights now if you're probably going to grant them later?

    Scalia may well prove to be right, but, as he and Roberts agreed, and the stay confirms, the reasoning in Windsor doesn't compel that result by a long shot.

    "Thus, it seems SCOTUS is perfectly content for different states to have different laws. It's not a stretch then to think they wouldn't be too concerned if some circuits had overturned marriage bans and some hadn't...."

    This is certainly a stretch. If states get to have different laws, then federal courts have no business deciding what those laws are. The only way the Court might even possibly decline to hear any appeal is if every single appeals court *upholds* gay-"marriage" bans. If they read the tea leaves properly they will, but I doubt they will do so unanimously.

    Posted by: TKinSC | Mar 26, 2014 4:13:13 AM


  21. "Why deny constitutional rights now if you're probably going to grant them later?"

    Indeed. It's inexplicable--which suggests why the stays have gone unexplained.


    "If states get to have different laws, then federal courts have no business deciding what those laws are."

    As you probably know, the court qualified its nod to state authority with the condition, "[s]ubject to certain constitutional guarantees, see, e.g., Loving v. Virginia." In other words, the states are on a federal leash called the 14th Amendment. That should hardly come as a surprise. The Civil War pretty well established that. I certainly hope you don't wish the South had won that.

    "The only way the Court might even possibly decline to hear any appeal is if every single appeals court *upholds* gay-"marriage" bans."

    No, SCOTUS may see no need to intervene if all circuits that hear marriage cases agree--as the district courts have--that the bans violate the 14th Amendment.

    Posted by: JJ | Mar 26, 2014 5:19:47 AM


  22. "Why deny constitutional rights now if you're probably going to grant them later?"
    It seems that someone based his opinion on his own imagination. Look at the recent Prop 8 case. The lower court decision was stayed until the SC decision which allowed the gay marriage in CA to proceed. Of course SC decision stated only that the defendants have no standing. They were supposed to know it when Appeal Court issued a stay.

    Posted by: simon | Mar 26, 2014 9:01:02 AM


  23. @TKINSC: I think you're pretty much the only person on earth at this point who thinks "(likelihood of success) weighs so heavily in favor of the states that it outweighs all other considerations."

    It's a laughable statement with zero basis in reality, unless you think all the pro-equality victories since Windsor have been aberrations, and all the pro-ban victories (none) are the norm.

    If this gets back to the Supreme Court (as it probably will), by then there will be a long string of victories along with a solid public majority in favor of equality. The landscape will have changed considerably in our favor even since Windsor.

    Posted by: Ernie | Mar 26, 2014 10:49:43 AM


  24. Interestingly, all 3 judges here were appointed by George W Bush.

    Posted by: Greg | Mar 26, 2014 11:07:31 AM


  25. Ernie:
    You are right. Someone here is delusional. He based his comments based on some devine revelation rather than reality and facts. Shall we call it uninformed or uneducated opinion.

    Posted by: simon | Mar 26, 2014 11:10:47 AM


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