UPDATE: Muskegon Co. clerk issues marriage licenses to gay couples

UPDATE: The U.S. 6th Circuit Court of Appeals posted a new order late Saturday imposing a stay in the case until Wednesday. Muskegon County Clerk Nancy Waters said she would stop issuing marriage licenses once the stay happened.

Our partners at the Detroit Free Press talked to Carl Tobias, a professor at the University of Richmond School of Law in Richmond, Va. He said that the status of the same-sex marriages is not entirely clear. That means those that have been married are in legal limbo while an appeal of a while an appeal of a federal judge's ruling declaring unconstitutional Michigan's voter-approved ban on same-sex marriage is pending before the U.S. 6th Circuit Court of Appeals.

MUSKEGON, Mich. (WZZM) -- Muskegon County Clerk Nancy Waters issued marriage licenses Saturday to dozens of gay couples after U.S. District Judge Bernard Friedman struck down Michigan's ban on same-sex marriage Friday.

Harbor Universalist Congregational Church Minister Rev. Bill Freeman says Waters will give marriage licenses to anyone who shows up. Freeman added, "I'm ready to perform as many same-sex weddings as is humanly possible."

Harbor Unitarian Universalist Congregation is located at 1296 Montgomery Avenue in Muskegon.

Meantime, the Washtenaw County Clerk's Office will issue 60 gay marriage licenses on Saturday.

"As far as we're concerned, we're abiding by the federal court appellates," Kestenbaum said. "We're not typically open, but basically the Board of Commissioners strongly urged me to be open tomorrow."

Michigan is now the 18th state in the nation to allow gay marriage. Friedman did not stay his ruling, prompting Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette to file an emergency stay request to prevent gay couples from marrying right away.

"I wasn't expecting the ruling would go into effect immediately and I know there's going to be attempts to get a stay, but I'm assuming there won't be one by tomorrow," Kestenbaum said. "If there is, then I'll stop."

Kestenbaum will waive the three-day waiting period and the fee. The license costs $20.

Kestenbaum said he has yet to hear of any other clerk offices issuing licenses on Saturday.

Ed Golembiewski, Washtenaw County director of elections, said preference will be given to couples who attempted to get married at the clerk's office last October. Golembiewski said couples were given numbers indicating their place in line at the time and they will be allowed to use them on Saturday.

In his 31-page ruling, Friedman heavily criticized the state's position that the will of the voters should have been upheld, noting that just because voters approve something doesn't make it right, especially when it violates the Constitution.

"In attempting to define this case as a challenge to 'the will of the people,' state defendants lost sight of what this case is truly about: people


"No court record of this proceeding could ever fully convey the personal sacrifice of these two plaintiffs who seek to ensure that the state may no longer impair the rights of their children and the thousands of others now being raised by same-sex couples," Friedman wrote.

However, Schuette said that the ruling goes against Michigan's constitution, and since Friedman did not include a stay of the ruling until an appeal could be heard, it went against precedent set in other cases on same-sex marriage around the country.

Contact Katrease Stafford: Kstafford@freepress.com


To find out more about Facebook commenting please read the
Conversation Guidelines and FAQs

Leave a Comment