A judge for the US District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan [official website] on Friday struck down [opinion, PDF] Michigan's ban on same-sex marriage. Judge Bernard Friedman ruled that the ban violates the US Constitution's guarantee of Equal Protection [text, Cornell LII] and also indicated that the state had failed to prove its allegation that children lacking "biologically connected" gender role models face difficulties in psychological development. Friedman also rejected the argument that the ban should be upheld because it was approved by voter referendum. "[S]tate defendants lost sight of what this case is truly about: people," said Friedman. The decision follows similar federal court rulings striking down same-sex marriage bans in Texas, Utah, Oklahoma and Virginia [JURIST reports], but the Michigan ruling is unique in that there was no stay placed on the effect of the decision pending appeal. County clerks are expected to begin issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples on Monday.
Same-sex marriage is one of the most hotly debated topics in the legal community today. The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) [advocacy website] filed two lawsuits in March challenging same-sex marriage bans in Indiana and Florida [JURIST reports]. Earlier in March, a federal judge for the US District Court for the Middle District of Tennessee [official website] granted a preliminary injunction [JURIST report] ordering the state of Tennessee to recognize same-sex marriages performed out-of-state until the lawsuit challenging the ban can be heard. A week prior, four couples filed a lawsuit [JURIST report] in Wyoming state court challenging that state's ban on same-sex marriage.