March 21st, 2013
Same-sex marriage is an issue that has recently gained considerable momentum. While the US federal government only recognizes heterosexual marriages, nine states allow marriages between homosexual couples. Most states, however, prohibit marriage between same-sex couples. We at the Universal Life Church support equal rights and feel that the following legal case is worth while to blog about.
Two such affected citizens are Jayne Rowse and April DeBoer of Michigan. Between them, they care for three adopted children: one girl, Ryanne, legally adopted by DeBoer, and two boys, Jacob and Nolan, adopted by Rowse. While Rowse and DeBoer retain individual custody, they fear, should something happen to either of them, that their children may be separated since the couple is not legally married.
This contingency led the couple to challenge the state’s adoption laws. During the preliminary trials they were surprised when the presiding federal judge, Judge Bernard Friedman, urged them to expand their lawsuit to overturn the Michigan gay marriage ban. He felt that it may violate the Constitution’s Equal Protection clause, which prohibits states from passing laws that grant some people privileges while disbarring others.
While the state of Michigan has some of the most restrictive marriage laws in the nation, the populace may be poised for change should the issue come up for vote. Michigan’s 2004 gay marriage ban passed by only nine percent, while according to the Washington Post, national support for same-sex marriage in March of this year rose 17% from 2004.
Furthermore, Michigan’s Odawa Indian Tribe performed its first same-sex marriage ceremony earlier in March. The reason the tribe recognizes same-sex marriage was that the concept only heterosexual marriages are valid was imposed on them by Western values, and does not reflect their belief in the spirit’s dual male/female nature. This concern echoes the idea that same-sex marriage is both an issue of civil rights and religious freedom. While Indian tribes are separate, sovereign entities from the US government, the newly married Odawa couple hopes that their tribe’s decision will open the door for gay marriage in Michigan, as well as equal marriage rights for all people living in America.
For now, the status of same-sex marriage in Michigan is yet to be decided. While Judge Bernard helped incite the challenge brought against the state’s ban, he has said that he awaits guidance from the Supreme Court. The ruling will be decided in the summer.