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US appeals court extends stay on same-sex marriage in Michigan

The US Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit [official website] on Tuesday granted [order] an extension of a temporary hold on a Detroit federal judge's ruling [JURIST report] in DeBoer v. Michigan [materials] that struck down Michigan's same-sex marriage ban. The court granted the stay in light of the US Supreme Court's issuance of a stay in a similar case, Herbert v. Kitchen [order, PDF], earlier this year. Attorneys representing the plaintiffs opposed the stay, arguing that lifting it would promote equality and human dignity, as well as provide security for children. Michigan issued hundreds of marriage licenses over the weekend after Judge Bernard Friedman ruled [opinion, PDF] on Friday that the ban violates the US Constitution's guarantee of Equal Protection [text, Cornell LII]. In so ruling, he also indicated that the state had failed to prove its allegation that children lacking "biologically connected" gender role models face difficulties in psychological development. The appeals court will hear the case in a few months.

DeBoer v. Michigan began as a lawsuit to challenge a state law barring unmarried couples from adopting when April DeBoer and her partner Jayne Rowse sought to adopt three children they had been raising together. During arguments last year, Friedman suggested the plaintiffs amend their lawsuit to challenge Michigan's same-sex marriage ban. Same-sex marriage [JURIST backgrounder] is one of the most hotly debated topics in the US 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. Last year the US Supreme Court struck down part of the Defense of Marriage Act [text; JURIST news archive] in US v. Windsor [JURIST report].

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