The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com
Monday, March 24, 2014 - 5A
Same-sex couples marry in court Saturday
Lisa Moskill and Miriam Flager embrace after being married Saturday.
A couple celebrates after being married in Washtenaw County Saturday
From Page 1A
ary 2012. Federal Judge Bernard
Friedman ruled Friday against
the 2004 voter-passed Michi-
gan Marriage Act, writing it was
unconstitutional since it did not
protect gays and lesbians equally
under the law.
Hazel Park's Jayne Rowse, a
plaintiff in the case, said on Friday
in an interview with The Michi-
gan Daily that she was surprised
there was no stay. She and her
partner, Hazel Park resident April
DeBoer, originally sued the state
so they could jointly adopt their
three special-needs children.
Twelve-year-old Aliza Break-
ey-Ways, wearing a dress pur-
chased that morning for her
fathers' wedding, is one child who
will be protected by the ruling.
Her fathers, Ann Arbor residents
Joe Breakeyand Peter Ways, mar-
ried on Saturday during what they
said was an amazing day that will
promise their child legal rights.
Breakey-Ways said she was
excited to share the news of
her fathers' marriage with her
"I mean, it's in the Constitution
that everyone's equal and that law
has been being broken for the last
how ever many years," Breakey-
Ways said. "And finally justice is
Ann Arbor Township residents
Jennifer Gould and Gina Torielli,
who were waiting for their mar-
riage licenses on Saturday, said
the added protection from state
"We feel validated," Torielli
said. "We've always felt married
to each other, but it's nice to have
the state recognize it too."
"We feel safer," Gould added.
"We can actually protect each
other, financially, health wise."
Statewide, before the stay went
into effect Saturday night, more
than 100 couples wedded and
more than 300 obtained marriage
licenses. Washtenaw County
alone welcomed 74 new same-sex
couples, while officials in Ingham,
Muskegon and Oakland counties
also processed marriage licenses.
The possibility of a stay led
these countries to open their
offices on Saturday, Washtenaw
County Clerk Larry Kestenbaum
(D) said. He said ensuring the
extra resources, such as dedi-
cating overtime pay to city per-
sonnel, to open the clerk's office
from 9 a.m. to1 p.m. was wise and
indicative of the support of the
"It went from being a question
of, 'Could we do it?' to 'How could
we not?"' he said.
Manyofthe couples who packed
the Washtenaw County Clerk's
Office on Saturday said they chose
to get married that day because of
the possibility of the stay.
However, the stay may render
some of these nuptials legally
ambiguous, Carl Tobias, a profes-
sor at the University of Richmond
School of Law, told The Detroit
Free Press on Saturday. These
marriages may be recognized by
the federal government, but not
by the state.
In December, a federal judge
ruled in favor of same-sex mar-
riage in Utah. However, a stay was
issued in that state in January as
the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals
considers the case.
Friction between state and
federal rulings are also epito-
mized in California. The Golden
State's supreme court deemed the
state's ban was unconstitutional
in June 2008, but issuance of
same-sex marriage licenses was
barred after voters elected to ban
same-sex marriage in Nov. 2008.
The marriages occurring before
November were legal, however. A
June 2013 Supreme Court ruling
overturned this ban, and same-
sex couples in California can now
Schuette's spokeswoman Joy
Yearout did not comment to the
Free Press regarding whether or
not Schuette believes the week-
end's same-sex marriages should
receive recognition from the state
as appeals go through the courts.
On Friday, in an earlier inter-
view with the Daily following the
ban's initial overturning, State
Rep. Jeff Irwin (D-Ann Arbor)
said Friedman's ruling would
"Regardless of whether or not
we can get a stay or an appeal
from the (Court of Appeals for
the) Sixth Circuit, anyone who
has read the Supreme Court rul-
ing on DOMA needs to come to
the conclusion that this case is
a loser for Bill Schuette," Irwin
Early Saturday, Kestenbaum said
he doubts that the stay will have far-
reaching effects. He said the politi-
cal leanings of the Sixth Circuit
coupled with the Supreme Court's
ruling on the Defense of Marriage
Act renders it unlikely that the fed-
eral court will uphold the 2004 ban
on same-sex marriage.
Kestenbaum added it may be
likely that conservative coun-
ties such as small, rural com-
munities in Western Michigan
would be slow to allow same-sex
couples to marry. He said county
clerks' offices throughout the
state should have an influx akin
to Washtenaw County's on Mon-
day morning, if the emergency
injunction had not succeeded.
This would result in a lawsuit for
Hundreds of Washtenaw
County residents awaited the
office's 9 a.m. opening and packed
its lower and first floors. Couples
swarmed the lobby as they waited
to file their paperwork and obtain
a marriage license. Occasionally,
above the din of excited chatter,
cheers filled the room to congrat-
ulate a newly licensed couple.
The frenzied mood tracked
down the stairs into the lower
level, where more than a dozen
officiates offered religious and
Reverend Curt DeMars-John-
son, an Okemos resident who
officiated same-sex ceremonies
in the 1990s, said the energy in
the clerk's office, among Krispy
Kreme donuts and laughter, was
"What I first witnessed when
I was walking into the building is
that there's tremendous joy writ-
ten all over the faces of many,
many, many people walking
out and entering the building,"
DeMars-Johnson, of Webster
United Church of Christ, said.
"This is a long, long awaited-for
Couples at the clerk's office
emphasized, however, that the
momentum for change in the
LGBT community should not
cease. Gould and Torielli point-
ed out how homosexuality is
grounds for termination at work.
When the two met 28 years ago,
beinggay was recently deemed no
longer a disease.
But on a sunny, early spring
day last weekend, laughter, cheers
and kisses were ubiquitous.
"It feels fantastic. We've been
waiting for a long time for this
day," Wilson said. She smiled and
turned to her newly-deemed wife,
and her decade-long partner.
"What about you, babe?"
"It feels very long overdue,"
Richer said. "It feels like it's about
Margerie Schloff and Ruth Addis hold hands during their marriage ceremony at Washtenaw County Court Saturday.
Merri Rpse and Lynne Whitney were married Saturday. Both religious and civilleaders officiated the ceremonies.
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Angela Napolski and Alex Alenik sign their marriage certificates at Washtenaw County Clerk's office Saturday.