Mich. Same-Sex Marriage Lawsuit to Go to Trial
A federal judge stunned the courtroom Wednesday by saying he’ll hold a trial before deciding whether to overturn Michigan’s ban on same-sex marriage.
U.S. District Judge Bernard Friedman said he won’t make a decision without hearing testimony from experts on whether there’s a legitimate state interest in banning gay marriage. He scheduled a trial for Feb. 25.
"I wish I could give you a definitive ruling. ... There are fact issues that have to be decided," Friedman said.
Friedman clearly caught the lawyers off guard. They had agreed to have him decide the issue on arguments and briefs. There was a groan in a nearby room where dozens of people were watching a video feed.
Two Detroit-area nurses in a lesbian relationship, Jayne Rowse, 49, and April DeBoer, 42, wanted to adopt each other’s children, not rewrite Michigan law. But their lawsuit took an extraordinary turn a year ago when Friedman suggested they refile it to challenge the gay marriage ban.
In doing so, they argued the state’s constitutional amendment violates the U.S. Constitution’s Equal Protection Clause.