Oakland County Clerk Lisa Brown, Mark Schauer’s running mate for Lieutenant Governor, accused Gov. Snyder of trying to hide behind his attorney general and challenged him to step out in support of fairness and equality. In a July 24 interview, she said that Gov. Snyder could have refused to support the marriage ban even if the attorney general insisted on appealing the case.
Although named as a defendant in DeBoer v. Snyder, Brown refused to defend Oakland County’s ban on same-sex marriage, hiring her own legal counsel to argue her support for marriage equality. Brown was in the courtroom for all eight days of the May trial in U.S. District Court and testified against her co-defendants.
BTL: Was there anything about that lawsuit that was surprising for you?
Brown: I think of what year it is and to hear hatred, ignorance come out of people’s mouths – and they are unapologetic! They are proud of this, and it’s still shocking to me. So yeah, ‘Did you really just say that out loud?’ and ‘Do you really feel that way?’ ‘Do you really believe that?,’ and I know they are swearing to tell the truth and everything so they do but… It was a thrill for me to be a part of that lawsuit. To be an ally and help bring equality, end discrimination. I am forced to discriminate in my office. I hate it. Friends came into my office and said ‘Will you marry us?’ and I couldn’t because they are two women. I’ve known them both for years.
It starts with the policy. We hear Snyder say that he wants to attract the best and the brightest, but when you end domestic partner benefits, when you continue to defend a discriminatory, unconstitutional marriage ban, you aren’t attracting the best and the brightest. And we want the best and the brightest on our team for us and for the people of Michigan. It doesn’t matter who you love; are you good at your job?
BTL: You are a defendant in the marriage ban lawsuit and so is the current governor. You were a ‘hostile’ defendant. Could Snyder have taken the same position?
Brown: I am listed as a defendant; it is DeBoer v. Snyder, Schuette and Brown. I am on there. Snyder could’ve taken the same approach I did. I inherited the lawsuit, but I changed the course of how the Oakland County Clerk was going to handle the lawsuit and how I viewed it. Snyder could’ve done the same thing. And there is precedent for a governor, because other governors have said, ‘Okay, Windsor came through; I am not going to defend our marriage ban anymore.’ We had a case in which then-Gov. Granholm and Attorney General Cox did not agree. And that could’ve happened in this case. Snyder could’ve taken a stand as easily as I did, he could’ve joined me and said, ‘Yeah, this is discrimination.’ And he didn’t this whole time. Even when Judge Friedman made his decision, he could have said ‘Yes, okay. Those 300 marriages are legal, but we aren’t going to extend benefits to those couples.’ He could have taken a stand. He said ‘I don’t want to talk about divisive issues as the governor,’ but what did he just do? You want to attract the best and the brightest, but you’re saying that they’re second-class citizens. It’s bewildering to me, and it’s angering to me. For him to hide behind, well, Schuette…no…I didn’t stand with Schuette. He could’ve taken a stand.
There are thousands of dollars that were spent on the trial and on the appeal. We know one of their so-called experts — who are just haters — cost $15,000, and the first expert that they called was thrown out. They wasted taxpayers’ dollars to fly him in, and then he just sat there in the courtroom.
And then they raised the argument that marriage is about reproduction. I think I would get in trouble if I asked a couple if they were planning on having children, and how many and are you fertile and I mean, like, what is your sperm count?