Late in the day on Friday, March 21, U.S. District Judge Bernard Friedman overturned the 2004 voter-approved Michigan Marriage Amendment. In his ruling, the judge said that Michigan’s prohibition on same-sex marriage violates the U.S. Constitution, and he ordered the state to stop enforcing the ban.
“Today’s decision … affirms the enduring principle that regardless of whoever finds favor in the eyes of the most recent majority, the guarantee of equal protection must prevail.”
The court order was halted at least temporarily on Saturday, but not before hundreds of couples had obtained licenses at Secretary of State offices which took the unusual step of opening on Saturday.
CNN reports that
Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette, a Republican whose term expires later this year, announced on Friday evening he’d filed an emergency request for U.S. District Judge Bernard Friedman’s order to be stayed and appealed.
“In 2004, the citizens of Michigan recognized that diversity in parenting is best for kids and families because moms and dads are not interchangeable,” Schuette said. “Michigan voters enshrined that decision in our state constitution, and their will should stand and be respected.”
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit issued an order Saturday to temporarily stay through at least Wednesday the decision by Friedman. In its brief order, the court explained that it did so “to allow a more reasoned consideration of the motion to stay.”
On Saturday morning, same-sex couples throughout the state rushed to obtain marriage licenses–some 142 couples in my own county.
The Catholic Church is clear in its opposition to so-called “same-sex marriage.” The seven Catholic bishops in the Archdiocese of Detroit and other dioceses in the State of Michigan released the following statement, under the name of the Michigan Catholic Conference, the official public policy voice of the Catholic Church in the state:
Marriage is and can only ever be a unique relationship solely between one man and one woman, regardless of the decision of a judge or future electoral vote. Nature itself, not society, religion or government, created marriage. Nature, the very essence of humanity as understood through historical experience and reason, is the arbiter of marriage, and we uphold this truth for the sake of the common good. The biological realities of male and female and the complementarity they each bring to marriage uniquely allows for the procreation of children.Every child has the right to both a mother and a father and, indeed, every child does have lineage to both. We recognize not every child has the opportunity to grow in this environment, and we pray for those single mothers and fathers who labor each day to care for their children at times amid great challenges and difficulties. They deserve our constant support and encouragement.Today’s decision from federal district court Judge Bernard Friedman to redefine the institution of marriage by declaring Michigan’s Marriage Amendment unconstitutional strikes at the very essence of family, community and human nature. In effect, this decision advances a misunderstanding of marriage, and mistakenly proposes that marriage is an emotional arrangement that can simply be redefined to accommodate the dictates of culture and the wants of adults. Judge Friedman’s ruling that also finds unconstitutional the state’s adoption law is equally of grave concern.As this case will likely move forward through the courts, it is necessary to state clearly that persons with same-sex attraction should not be judged, but rather accepted with respect, compassion and sensitivity. We rejoice with those brothers and sisters in Christ living with same sex attraction who have found great freedom through Jesus’ call to chastity communicated through the Church. We equally encourage those who are struggling in good conscience to live in harmony with the Church’s teaching about sexuality, along with their families, to continue praying and to continue seeking the Lord with the help and guidance of the Church.Going forward, we, the Catholic bishops of this state, working through the Michigan Catholic Conference, will collaborate with those who are upholding Michigan’s Marriage Amendment and adoption statute and will assist to the greatest extent possible efforts to appeal Judge Friedman’s most regrettable ruling.Most Reverend Allen H. VigneronArchbishop of DetroitMost Reverend Earl A. BoyeaBishop of LansingMost Reverend Paul J. BradleyBishop of KalamazooMost Reverend Joseph R. CistoneBishop of SaginawMost Reverend John F. DoerflerBishop of MarquetteMsgr. Francis J. MurphyDiocesan Administrator, GaylordMost Reverend David J. WalkowiakBishop of Grand Rapids