Michigan clerk says she would issue gay marriage licences if told by a judge

Illustrated rainbow pride flag on a pink background.

Despite being called in defence of a Michigan law banning same-sex marriage, a county clerk admitted she would issue marriage licences to same-sex couples, if ordered by a judge.

Oakland County Clerk Lisa Brown referred to a memo from Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette, which said county clerks should not issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples under any circumstances.

The memo read: “To all county clerks: Even if the U.S. District Court were to decide that Michgan’s Marriage Amendment was unconstitutional … same-sex marriage licenses should not be issued.”

Brown said she would be at odds because she is expected to hold up both the state and US Constitutions, noting the 2013 strike-down of the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA).

“My gut is to follow what the judge says, not what the [Attorney Genera] says,” Brown said during her testimony on Monday.

She previously said she thought the law banning gay couples from marrying was discriminatory.

Brown was called because she is the county clerk for the area in which the plaintiffs in the case live.

Later in the day, during the lawsuit challenging the ban, a witness for its defence was banned from testifying.

Sherif Girgis, a Yale University law student, who has written extensively on historical defences of marriage between one woman and one man, and had been slated to appear in court in defence of the state’s same-sex marriage ban.

However, he was on Monday dismissed by Federal Judge Bernard Friedman, who said Girgis’ opinions will not help him decide in this case.

The lawsuit challenges a 2004 voter-approved ban on same-sex marriage and is brought by two Detroit nurses who say it violates the US Constitution. It is expected to go on until at least Tuesday.