Marriage Equality: ‘It’s Coming’ Say LGBT Advocates

By | 2014-10-23T09:00:00-04:00 October 23rd, 2014|Michigan, News|

Michigan Equality Executive Director Emily Dievendorf, Michigan For Marriage Coalition Manager Regina Caicagno and attorney Jay Kaplan of the ACLU of Michigan LGBT Project discuss the state of marriage equality Oct. 14. BTL photo: Todd Heywood

EAST LANSING – As Michigan residents continue to wait for the U.S. 6th Circuit Court of Appeals to issue its ruling in the appeal of DeBoer v Snyder – Michigan’s same-sex marriage case – LGBT advocates had a message: it’s coming.
When, however, is unclear. Jay Kaplan, who heads the LGBT Project for ACLU of Michigan, told attendees at an East Lansing forum on Oct. 14 that the decision could be issued any day, but he expects it might not be until November. The reason? A former clerk from the 6th Circuit tells ACLU officials it usually takes the judges three months after hearing a case to issue a formal opinion.
The event took place a week after the U.S. Supreme Court refused to hear seven marriage case appeals, bringing marriage equality to ten more states. That decision, Kaplan said, sent a message.
“I think the court is also sending a message to the other federal district courts and the other circuit court of appeals that, ‘We feel comfortable,'” Kaplan said. “We feel comfortable with the fact that same-sex couples are getting married, are being allowed to marry, through these lower court decisions. And now is not the time we feel we need to weigh in on the issue.”
Kaplan warned that the 6th Circuit could still buck the legal trend of upholding marriage equality. That would likely result in an appeal by the plaintiffs to the U.S. Supreme Court. The court would likely take up that case.
“If they do take it up, it’s very unlikely they will say, ‘You know what? There’s something wrong here,’ and rule to eliminate marriage equality,” Kaplan said. “That train has left the station.”
If the court upholds the lower court decision, upholding marriage equality in Michigan, Kaplan says he doesn’t see the high court agreeing to hear an appeal from the state.
“I think the message is that we are going to have marriage equality,” Kaplan said.
Emily Dievendorf, executive director of Equality Michigan, said that despite the on-going litigation, the state movement is ready to move ahead with a ballot measure to repeal Michigan’s marriage ban.
“If the courts take too long, let’s take this to the ballot,” Dievendorf said. Such a move could place the repeal on the 2015 ballot.
Meanwhile, Michigan for Marriage – a project involving Equality Michigan and the ACLU – is collecting stories of people impacted by the marriage equality debate. She noted that telling “our” stories helps inform the elected leadership about how the marriage ban is hurting Michigan and Michigan families.
Dievendorf reminded the audience that polling is often rocky, and despite a recent “bad” poll, the majority of Michigan voters and Michigan residents support marriage equality. She noted that part of the problem is that Michigan is not voting.
“We have been paying the price,” she said. “That is why we are where we are. Why our leaders don’t represent us. Don’t represent our values. We are all ready to see these changes.”

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