The 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has set a date for a three-judge panel to hear oral arguments in Michigan’s appeal of a lower court ruling striking down the state’s voter-backed ban on same-sex marriage as unconstitutional.
Arguments will be heard at 1 p.m. Aug 6 in Cincinnati, the Detroit Free Press reports. Each side will have half an hour to present arguments. The hearing could be canceled if the panel decides they’re not necessary.
In that case, the panel would decide the case on the merits of arguments set forth on briefs and the record of the landmark case, in which U.S. District Judge Robert Friedman turned back a 10-year ban on same-sex marriage.
Friedman’s March 21 ruling came after a stormy nine-day trial prompted by April DeBoer and Jayne Rowse, two nurses from Hazel Park who have been together for a decade, but were prohibited from jointly adopting children because they didn’t have a legal marriage. Rowse has two adopted children and DeBoer has one, but without the protection of marriage, they feared that in the event of either of their deaths, the surviving parent might not get custody of all three children.
In his ruling, the judge said the ban violated the Equal Protection Clause of the U.S. Constitution and doesn’t advance any legitimate state interest. The ruling also turned back a ban on same-sex adoption.
Same-sex marriage foes moved quickly, and the 6th Circuit issued an emergency stay of the ruling less than 24 hours after it was made. In his appeal, Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette said he was protecting the legal rights of 2.7 million citizens of the state who voted in 2004 to define marriage as between one man and one woman.
That left more than 300 same-sex couples who married in the less than 24 hours gay marriage was legal in Michigan in a sort of legal limbo as far as Michigan law is concerned.
Gov. Rick Snyder has made clear that the marriages that took place in four Michigan counties were lawful and valid, despite the state’s refusal to recognize them pending the outcome of an appeal Friedman’s ruling.U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder has said the federal government will recognize the Michigan same-sex marriages.