MASON, Mich. – Same-sex couples rushed to Michigan county clerk’s offices Saturday to get hitched a day after a judge overturned the state’s constitutional ban on gay marriage, and several hundred managed to do so before an appeals court reinstituted the ban, at least temporarily.
The order by a federal appeals court in Cincinnati came after Glenna DeJong, 53, and Marsha Caspar, 51, of Lansing, were the first to arrive at the Ingham County Courthouse in the central Michigan city of Mason. DeJong and Caspar, who have been together for 27 years, received their license and were married by Ingham County Clerk Barb Byrum.
Similar nuptials followed one after another, at times en masse, in at least four of Michigan’s 83 counties.
DeJong said the threat of a stay was all the encouragement they needed.
“Come Monday, we might not be able to do it, so we knew we had a short window of time,” she said.
She was right. Later Saturday, the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals froze until at least Wednesday a decision by a lower court judge to overturn Michigan’s ban. The appeals court said the timeout will “allow a more reasoned consideration” of the state’s request to stop same-sex marriages.
Voters approved the gay marriage ban in a landslide in 2004. But in Friday’s historic decision, U.S. District Judge Bernard Friedman said the ballot box is no defense to a law that tramples the rights of same-sex couples.