At its April 7, 2014 meeting, the Ann Arbor city council is expected to consider a resolution asking that Michigan state officials stop opposing a recent court ruling that allows same-sex marriages. [.pdf of draft resolution on same-sex marriage]
The ruling in question was issued by federal judge Bernard Friedman on Friday, March 21, 2014 in the case of Deboer v. Snyder. In that ruling, Friedman found that Article I, Section 25 of the Michigan Constitution – which limits the benefits of marriage to unions between one man and one woman – did not advance any legitimate state interest. So the ruling had the effect of making same-sex marriages legal in Michigan.
But the day following the decision, on March 22, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit issued a temporary stay on Friedman’s ruling. Michigan’s Gov. Rick Snyder and Attorney General Bill Schuette are appealing Friedman’s decision.
The council’s resolution reads in part:
RESOLVED, That the Ann Arbor City Council urges Governor Snyder and Attorney General Schuette to immediately suspend all efforts to appeal or otherwise contest Judge Friedman’s Ruling…
Before the stay on Friedman’s ruling took effect, Washtenaw County clerk Larry Kestenbaum opened his office for business on Saturday, March 22, and issued 74 marriage licenses for same-sex couples in Washtenaw County. The county board had already set the stage for those couples to receive what practically amounts to a fee waiver for the expedited processing of a license, which ordinarily takes three days. The “fee” approved by the board at its Feb. 19, 2014 meeting reduced the usual fee from $50 to 1 cent.
The resolution passed by the board on Feb. 19 allows the county clerk, consulting with the county administrator, to establish a “fee holiday” on the day preceding a period during which the office’s vital records division would be closed for four or more days, or when an unusual number of marriage license applicants are expected to appear. During a “fee holiday,” the charge for immediately processing a marriage license is 1 cent.
The resolution expected to be considered by the Ann Arbor city council at its April 7 meeting currently has four sponsors: Christopher Taylor (Ward 3), Margie Teall (Ward 4), Sabra Briere (Ward 1) and Chuck Warpehoski (Ward 5).