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Detroit Minister Sues Michigan For The Right To Conduct Same-Sex and Polygamous Marriages

Screen Shot 2015-01-16 at 2.36.41 PMA bold Detroit minister filed a lawsuit against the state of Michigan, alleging state law violates his right to religious freedom by barring him from conducting same-sex and polygamous marriages reports The Detroit NewsRev. Neil Patrick Carrick filed the lawsuit on Monday against Gov. Rick Snyder and Attorney General Bill Schuette, citing that the state's ban on such unions runs counter to the First Amendment and 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. Carrick issued a stoic statement on the matter Tuesday.

Said Carrick:

"Churches should have the right to marry who they want to marry. I've been told by others that 'we would love to marry (gays and lesbians) but we can't because we would be breaking the law.'

"The state of Michigan does not have the right to tell us what to do in our church."

In the lawsuit, Carrick claims the state engages in "the disparate treatment" of gays, lesbians and what he calls "plural relationships." Carrick, a former pastor with the United Church of Christ, says he turned down requests from same-sex to marry because he would be breaking state law. Michigan law states that someone who knowingly performs a marriage ceremony for same-sex couples is a punishable crime and carries a fine of up to $500. "Michigan officials create discrimination and potentially prosecution of private conduct between consenting adults without requiring law enforcement officials to show harm to society or those involved," Carrick said.

Gina Calcagno, the campaign manager for Michigan for Marriage, an advocacy group that wholeheartedly supports same-sex marriage, said many religious are eager to perform ceremonies for same-sex couples. "They are just waiting for the state to catch up," said Calcagno. The United Church of Christ filed a lawsuit last April against the state of North Carolina arguing that the state's marriage law violates the First Amendment rights of clergy to "free exercise of religion." A federal judge struck down the North Carolina law in October.

A spokesman for the Michigan Attorney General's Office declined to comment about the lawsuit Tuesday. Yesterday, the U.S. Supreme Court announced it would review a case challenging Michigan's gay marriage ban. 


Michigan Marriage Equality Supporters Launch Campaign for 2016 Ballot Effort: VIDEO

Michigan

Marriage equality advocates in Michigan launched a new campaign yesterday to educate voters in order to launch a ballot effort should the federal legal challenge to the state's gay marriage ban fail in court, WZZM reports:

"Our roadmap to victory calls for work on two tracks," said Emily Dievendorf, executive director of Detroit-based Equality Michigan.

The first step is to continue with a court challenge "but if we don't get a favorable ruling, we intend on overturning Michigan's ban by ballot initiative in 2016," said Dievendorf in a news release.

Joining Equality Michigan in the campaign is the ACLU of Michigan and New York City-based Freedom to Marry, which is pushing similar "education campaigns" in a dozen states, said Richard Carlbom, the group's state campaigns director.

"Think of this as a presidential campaign, bringing this to the voters across the country," Carlbom said.

Watch WZZM's report on the new Michigan campaign, AFTER THE JUMP....

In news related to the legal case, the state of Michigan cited SCOTUS's recent Affirmative Action ruling in a brief filed this week:

"The district court’s decision, to use (U.S. Supreme Court Justice Anthony) Kennedy’s recent words, demeans democracy," the state asserted, referring to the plurality opinion in the case that Schuette argued in defense of the affirmative action ban.

"It denies each of those voters the dignity of a meaningful vote, labels each with the stigma of irrationality, and treats Michigan’s electorate as incapable of deciding this profound and sensitive issue."

Kennedy wrote in his opinion on Schuette vs. Coalition to defend Affirmative Action:

"It is demeaning to the democratic process to presume that the voters are not capable of deciding an issue of this sensitivity on decent and rational grounds... Freedom embraces the right, indeed the duty, to engage in a rational, civic discourse in order to determine how best to form a consensus to shape the destiny of the Nation and its people. These First Amendment dynamics would be disserved if this Court were to say that the question here at issue is beyond the capacity of the voters to debate and then to determine."

Also of note — in its brief, the attorney general also dropped all reference to the "research" done by discredited UT professor Mark Regnerus.

Watch WZZM's report on the new Michigan campaign, AFTER THE JUMP....

Continue reading "Michigan Marriage Equality Supporters Launch Campaign for 2016 Ballot Effort: VIDEO" »


Michigan AG Bill Schuette Denounces Brief from White Supremacist Group Supporting Gay Marriage Ban

Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette [pictured] has denounced an amicus field filed by the white nationalist group Traditionalist Youth Network seeking to help his defense of Michigan’s gay marriage ban. Mlive reports:

Billschuette"The totality of the history of the Western and American traditions demonstrates quite clearly that same-sex conduct can be penalized," wrote [TYN] attorney Kyle Bristow, suggesting that legalized gay marriage would a "mockery" of historical customs and cultures.

"If a state cannot be permitted to define marriage as simply as constituting one man and one woman, then our culture will be taken down a very slippery slope that will see pedophiles, polygamists, zoophiles, those in incestuous relationships, and every other sexual deviant with proclivities now known or to be invented to challenge laws that, likewise, prevent them from marrying whom—what—they wish."

Following calls to denounce the brief from a conservative blogger at The Detroit News, Schuette released the following statement:

“There is no place in this discussion for derogatory language, and anything like it will be completely disregarded by the Department of Attorney General," "The Sixth Circuit should use this brief to line a birdcage, because that's all it's good for.

Schuette, however, continues to vigorously defend the state's ban on same-sex marriage, arguing that the state has an interest in the need to "regulate sexual relationships" 

During a trial earlier this month, Schuette brought in discredited witnesses to testify that Michigan children are not well-served by living in gay households.


Michigan Attorney General Says He'll 'Aggressively Defend' State's Ban on Same-Sex Marriage

Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette tells the Petoskey News that he believes marriage is between a man and a woman and he's ready for any challenges to the state's Constitution which defines it that way:

Schuette"The real issue is what may or may not happen," Schuette said. "We have this marriage amendment in place. I'm going to defend it and defend it aggressively. I happen to think that is correct."

Since the U.S. Supreme Court ruling was issued in June, there has been speculation about whether a referendum on the marriage amendment could be on the ballot in 2014 or 2016.

The attorney general is currently serving out his first term in office and is expected to seek a second and final four-year term in 2014, which means a repeal of the amendment would force his office to do an about-face on its stance.

Schuette says if voters decide to repeal the marriage amendment in the future, his office will make the legal adjustments necessary.

"I happen to think the amendment adopted by the people was correct, and whether there is amendment that goes a different way in 2014 or 2016 we'll see," Schuette said.

Schuette will be defending the ban on October 1 when the case of April DeBoer and Jayne Rowse, a Detroit couple suing the state of Michigan over its ban on gay adoption who expanded their lawsuit to take on the state's marriage amendment, comes before a judge in federal court.

Michigan lawmakers have also introduced legislation to repeal the state's ban.


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