On this day in 2014: Same-sex marriage is legalized in Michigan

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    U.S. District Judge Bernard Judge Friedman on March 21, 2014, issued a ruling legalizing same-sex marriage in Michigan.

    In 2004, Michigan voters OK’d a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage. Since that time, public opinion had turned around in the state with polling showing a majority supported marriage equality.

    A Michigan couple, April DeBoer and Jayne Rowse, filed suit challenging the state’s ban on LGBT adoption with then-Gov. Rick Snyder as the lead defendant. Then-Attorney General Bill Schuette, a fellow Republican and a longtime opponent of LGBT rights, zealously defended the case.

    Friedman said the suit, DeBoer v. Snyder, also dealt with the fundamental issue of same-sex marriage. On March 21, 2014, he ruled that such marriages were legal. Now-Attorney General Dana Nessel was the lead attorney representing DeBoer and Rowse.

    On March 22, four clerks in Muskegon, Oakland, Ingham and Washtenaw counties opened so that same-sex couples could obtain marriage licenses. A total of 323 couples were wed that day.

    Later on March 22, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit issued a stay, thus ending the window for legal same-sex marriage.

    The Michigan case was rolled into Obergefell v. Hodges, which ended up before the U.S. Supreme Court. On June 26, 2015, the High Court ruled that marriage equality was legal in all 50 states and the District of Columbia.

    The Advance will have more on the five-year anniversary of the first same-sex marriages in Michigan on Friday.

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    Susan J. Demas is a 19-year journalism veteran and one of the state’s foremost experts on Michigan politics, appearing on MSNBC, CNN, NPR and WKAR-TV’s “Off the Record.” In addition to serving as Editor-in-Chief, she is the Advance’s chief columnist, writing on women, LGBTQs, the state budget, the economy and more. Most recently, she served as Vice President of Farough & Associates, Michigan’s premier political communications firm. For almost five years, Susan was the Editor and Publisher of Inside Michigan Politics, the most-cited political newsletter in the state. Susan’s award-winning political analysis has run in more than 80 national, international and regional media outlets, including the Guardian U.K., NBC News, the New York Times, the Detroit News and MLive. She is the only Michigan journalist to be named to the Washington Post’s list of “Best Political Reporters,” the Huffington Post’s list of “Best Political Tweeters” and the Washington Post’s list of “Best Political Bloggers.” Susan was the recipient of a prestigious Knight Foundation fellowship in nonprofits and politics. She served as Deputy Editor for MIRS News and helped launch the Michigan Truth Squad, the Center for Michigan’s fact-checking project. She started her journalism career reporting on the Iowa caucuses for The (Cedar Rapids) Gazette. Susan has hiked over 3,000 solo miles across four continents and climbed more than 60 mountains. She also enjoys dragging her husband and two teenagers along, even if no one else wants to sleep in a tent anymore.

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