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Two Dozen Prominent Michigan Republicans File Brief In Favor Of Same-Sex Marriage

A brief has been filed by over two dozen prominent Republicans in Michigan's 6th Circuit Court of Appeals case regarding the state's same-sex marriage ban. This is an exciting development in the state whose voters originally approved the ban by a 59% majority.

BernardFriedmanAfter judge Bernard Friedman (right) overturned the ban this March, declaring it unconstitutional, Michigan attorney general Bill Schuette appealed that decision and asked for a stay; 299 couples married in the one day between, but as briefs pile up in support of same-sex marriage, the case for marriage equality is stronger by the day (especially considering precedent from the Supreme Court and other regional cases around the country). The Republican brief is a particularly resonant example of changing public opinion.

The Detroit Free Press reports:

“As various states have legalized civil marriage for same-sex couples, undersigned Amici, like many Americans, have examined the emerging evidence and have concluded that there is no legitimate, fact-based reason for denying same-sex couples the same recognition in law that is available to opposite-sex couples,” they said in the brief.

The brief was signed by 15 former members of either the state or U.S. House of Representatives, including former Speaker of the House Rick Johnson of LeRoy, U.S. Rep. Joe Schwarz of Battle Creek, and state Rep. Chris Ward of Howell.

RainbowMichiganOther signers included attorneys and staffers whose opinions regarding marriage equality have changed in recent years. One former representative, Leon Drolet, argued that the brief could feasibly encourage other Republicans to "come out of the closet" about same-sex marriage, while former Michigan house speaker Rick Johnson said he believes the change in opinion is important for the continuation of the party.

“You make decisions, especially when you’re the leader, based on what’s going on at the time, and that was the movement at the time,” he said. “But now, if you’re going to be Republican and make the comments that we want a broad tent, then you should include everyone. A lot of people are tired of government in their house, in the backyard or in their bedroom.”

Many Michigan Republicans have retained their anti-same-sex marriage stance, but the thirty-one briefs filed in opposition to the ban on Monday indicate that such attitudes are ultimately falling by the way side. Drolet commented:

“Hopefully we’re moving to a place where treating people differently based on gender or sexual orientation will be an embarrassing part of our past.”


Federal Appeals Court to Hear Gay Marriage Challenges from MI, OH, KY, and TN on August 6

The Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals has scheduled hearings for five marriage cases in four states on August 6, the Washington Blade reports:

LmcIn four separate notices on Monday, the Sixth Circuit, which is located in Cincinnati, announced that arguments for the cases in Michigan, Ohio, Kentucky and Tennessee will take place on August 6 at 1 pm.

James Esseks, director of the American Civil Liberties Union LGBT project, said his organization welcomes the developments for each of the cases. His organization is assisting with litigation in the Ohio case.

“We’re happy to see the Circuit taking up this issue so quickly,” Esseks said. “All the cases together reinforce how sweeping and widespread are the harms that come from the marriage bans.”

Every case seeks same-sex marriage recognition rights of some sort, except the case from Michigan, which seeks to win the freedom for gay couples to marry in the state.

According to Equality on Trial:

Michigan: Arguments in DeBoer v. Snyder will be one hour, with 30 minutes per side.

Ohio: Arguments in Henry v. Himes and Obergefell v. Himes will be one hour, with 30 minutes per side.

Kentucky: Arguments in Bourke v. Beshear will be 30 minutes, 15 minutes per side.

Tennessee: Arguments in Tanco v. Haslam will be 30 minutes, 15 minutes per side.

In related news, DOMA attorney Roberta Kaplan had filed a motion to intervene in the Ohio case but she has been denied:

According to the eight-page notice handed down from the court, Kaplan was denied the ability to participate because the cases is too far advanced at this point.

The state of Ohio and the ACLU had objected to Kaplan's motion to intervene.


New Marriage Lawsuits Filed This Week in Michigan, North Dakota

Two new marriage lawsuits were filed this week, in Michigan and North Dakota, making a total of 74 cases in 32 states around the country.

In MichiganMichigan

The attorney for Bruce Morgan and Brian Merucci filed the suit Wednesday in Federal court.

The couple had been married in New York and since their marriage is recognized on the federal level, they contend it should be recognized in Michigan as well.

Morgan and Merucci have been a committed relationship for seven years. In 2011, Morgan was diagnosed with inoperable brain cancer. He released a statement through his attorney Stephanie Myott from the law firm Rhoades McKee: "If I am in the hospital, I want to know that Brian can be there at my bedside as my spouse and that the hospital will recognize the decisions he makes regarding my care."

Myott contends when federal Judge Friedman struck down Michigan's ban on gay marriage in March, Morgan and Merucci's marriage became valid.

 Here's the full press release on the Michigan case.

And North Dakota got its second lawsuit, from Lambda Legal:

The 33-page complaint filed by Janet Jorgensen and Cynthia Phillips, who were legally married in Minnesota, says the couple is treated as "legal strangers" in their home state. It says North Dakota's law violates the equal protection and due process clause in the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.


Michigan Governor Rick Snyder: Legislature Should Take Up LGBT Protections

Michigan Governor Rick Snyder said on Thursday that he would like the legislature to update Michigan's civil rights law to prohibit discrimination because of sexual orientation or gender identity, the AP reports:

Snyder"I don't believe in discrimination," the Republican governor told reporters at the Mackinac Policy Conference, the Detroit Regional Chamber's annual meeting for more than 1,500 business, political and civil leaders. "It's a healthy thing for the Legislature to look to take it up as an issue sometime this year."

He stopped short of specifically backing an update of the 1976 Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act, but his request that the GOP-led Legislature debate legislation late this summer or in the fall was seen as a positive signal by advocates. Snyder's comments — his strongest to date — came the same day that Chrysler, other companies, the Detroit Regional Chamber and the Grand Rapids Area Chamber of Commerce joined the Michigan Competitive Workforce Coalition, a group created this month to lobby to amend the law.

Snyder had said he was open to adding gays and lesbians to the state's protections back in December.

Snyder speaks another language when it comes to marriage, however.

In February he asked a judge to rule in favor of the state in a lawsuit filed by five same-sex couples demanding domestic partner benefits. And after Michigan's gay marriage ban was struck down in March, Snyder said the government would not recognize the marriages.

He has been an expert dodger when it comes to expressing his personal views on both topics.


Saginaw, Michigan City Council Kills LGBT Ordinance in 9-0 Vote After Councilman Compares Gays to Nazis

Saginaw, Michigan's City Council voted 9-0 on Tuesday against an LGBT non discrimination ordinance after Councilman Dan Fitzpatrick compared gays and LGBT allies to Nazis, MLive reports.

FitzpatrickSaid Fitzpatrick:

"Most people know my position. What I'm totally amazed at is a number of people I've talked to or heard from say, 'Come on, just pass this thing.' Find out what it means later. Well how does that sound? Doesn't matter; if it's bad, fix it. Fix it later. It's going to happen eventually; just get with it. Be progressive. In about 1933 there was a real big youth movement in Germany called the party of national socialists. A lot of people said, 'You know, I don't like them. I don't know; I don't understand. But man they're good for business.'"

Fitzpatrick later tried to backtrack:

"I wasn't comparing them with the Nazis," he said. "Just the idea that just because something comes from the youth community, or a small subculture of youth or a subculture of our community, it doesn't mean it's necessarily good."

Gee thanks, you frightful bigot.

Fitzpatrick tried to backtrack some more:

"I'm not saying they're Nazis," he said. "I will say that sometimes these tactics smack of it. The similar kinds of things that the German youth movement did. That everything old is bad and everything new is good."

It's not the first time the LGBT nondiscrimination ordinance has been voted down after Fitzpatrick's objections. Back in April, he said:

"I will never vote for this, ever," Fitzpatrick said. "No matter how many amendments you put in here. Because sexual mores — your choice of what you do behind closed doors — has nothing to do with being a good citizen. It has nothing to do with the city of Saginaw. It has nothing to do with what we're charged here at this Council to do. Shame, shame on you.

He also apologized to black pastors at the City Council meeting for white people who compared the gay civil rights struggle to that of African-Americans.

Watch a report on last night's votes and Fitzpatrick's remarks from the earlier (April ) meeting, AFTER THE JUMP...

Continue reading "Saginaw, Michigan City Council Kills LGBT Ordinance in 9-0 Vote After Councilman Compares Gays to Nazis" »


Liberty Counsel Defends Michigan’s Ban on Same-Sex Marriage Because Gay People Have 'Inherent' Diseases

Liberty counselThe anti-gay Christian law firm Liberty Counsel has filed an amicus brief urging the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals to uphold Michigan’s ban on same-sex marriage, which was struck down by U.S. District Judge Bernard Friedman back in March

Among Liberty Counsel’s arguments made in the brief is the assertion that “not only is there no bodily good or function toward which two same-sex bodies can coordinate, but there are in fact inherent harms associated with same-sex unions."

The brief continues:

The personal, social and financial costs of these homosexual-specific health problems concern not just those who engage in homosexual activity, but also the larger community of citizens who help provide services and who must bear part of the burdens imposed by the health challenges. It would be rational for the voters of Michigan to seek to minimize the deleterious effects of these conditions on public health, safety and welfare by affirming that marriage in Michigan remains the union of one man and one woman.

Think Progress reports that the brief goes on to highlight "a number of health concerns that are unique or specific to the LGBT community, including lower life expectancy, suicide, higher rates of substance abuse, depression, inadequate access to care, HIV/AIDS, sexually transmitted diseases, certain cancers, and eating disorders.”

Notably absent from the brief, however, are the numerous studies directly linking the LGBT health inequities to the “discrimination and stigma against homosexuality” in many parts of the country. 


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