US: Suspension of gay marriage in Michigan extended

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An appeals court has extended a stay currently preventing gay and lesbian couples from marrying in the US state of Michigan, pending an appeal from the state.

Not long after a judge declared Michigan’s ban on same-sex marriage unconstitutional last week, an appeals court issued a stay against the ruling.

Ruling on Friday, US District Judge Bernard Friedman suggested that upholding a ban on same-sex marriage would be unfair to the children of gay couples, and said it was unconstitutional.

However, clerks in Michigan were then told to cease issuing marriage licenses to hundreds of same-sex couples after a motion of stay once more temporarily reinstated the ban.

Attorney General Bill Schuette on Tuesday issued a statement asking that, if a ruling is not made by the time a temporary suspension of same-sex marriage lifts on Wednesday, and if a long-term stay is not applied, the Supreme Court should be given two more days to make a decision.

Referring to a similar Utah case Herbert vs Kitchen, in which the Supreme Court issued a stay to stop same-sex marriage in the state, judges John M Rogers and Karen K Caldwell said there was no reason to lift the suspension.

They wrote: “There is no apparent basis to distinguish this case or to balance the equities any differently than the Supreme Court did in Kitchen. Furthermore, several district courts that have struck down laws prohibiting same-sex marriage similar to the Michigan amendment at issue here have also granted requests for stays made by state defendants.”

Judge Helene N White, in a dissenting opinion, wrote: “Although the Supreme Court stayed the permanent injunction issued by the Utah District Court in Kitchen v. Herbert pending final disposition by the Tenth Circuit… it did so without a statement of reasons, and therefore the order provides little guidance. I would therefore apply the traditional four-factor test, which leads me to conclude that a stay is not warranted.”