Marriage Equality Champion to Seek Re-election

LANSING — Within minutes of the U.S. Supreme Court ruling that legalized same-sex marriages in all 50 states last year, Ingham County Clerk Barb Byrum was performing the first post-ruling marriage in American history.
The then 37-year-old clerk hadn't even finished reading the ruling, but she was game to marry the couple that arrived almost immediately after the announcement. That move put her in the history books as the first elected official to marry a couple after the ruling. The marriage was performed so quickly, there was no media present.
"The couples had waited long enough," Byrum said.
Byrum was one of a few of Michigan's clerks who opened her doors on a Saturday in March 2014 following a ruling by a federal district court judge that struck Michigan's marriage ban down.
"My biggest struggle on that day was — I can open, yeah, my key will open the door, but how will I actually process those marriage licenses?" she said. "I couldn't sleep with the thought that I might be standing in the way of loving couples joining together in marriage."
At 3 a.m. she sent a text message to her team, and by 6 a.m. all had agreed to come into work and issue marriage licenses in what has since become known as "the window."
Building on that success, Byrum launched her re-election bid for the post on March 29. The 38-year-old mother of two boys — ages 6 and 8 — said she wants to continue her work as clerk making the vital records programming work for all families.
"We still have work to do," she said. "We have more work to do on issuing birth records, death records and other vital statistics so that all families are respected."
She said she has also been in contact with the ACLU and the state's Office of Vital Records.
"It is — I believe — going to change in the near future," she said of negotiations to amend state records' documents to reflect same-sex marriage.
She said she has been working with the state clerk's association to push the state of Michigan to revise current documents to accurately reflect a post-SCOTUS ruling.
In addition to her work on marriage equality, she touts her expansion of services from the county seat — in Mason, about 20 miles south of Lansing — to the Lansing Branch. She also pointed to her expansion of online services which have reduced the need for customers to wait in line or return to the clerk's office multiple times.
Prior to being elected to the post in November 2011, Byrum served as a state lawmaker. During her time, she made headlines when Republican House leadership barred her and another female lawmaker from talking on the floor of the House for comments they made during a floor debate on abortion.
She has filed for re-election as a Democrat. The deadline to file for the clerk position is by 4 p.m., April 19. At deadline, no one else had filed to challenge Byrum either as a Democrat or a Republican.