Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Limbo Marriages


Glenna DeJong, 53, and Marsha Caspar, 51, from Lansing, Michigan have been together for twenty-seven years. They, the first gay couple in Michigan, were married last week, but now found their marriage on hold as of March 22nd because of the federal appeals court order that prevents same-sex couples from getting married. The appeals court does not have a date when it will make a final decision on gay marriage so the DeJong-Caspar marriage is on hold or to use legal parlance, it is “stayed.”

Emergency Stays

Even though Judge Bernard A. Friedman of Federal District Court in Detroit struck down  Michigan’s 2004 amendment banning same-sex marriage as unconstitutional, Michigan’s Attorney General Bill Schuette filed an emergency request for stay and appeal.  The state (and the Attorney General) believe it’s a risky idea to change the original definition of marriage as between a man and a woman.

Roll Over, Sit, Stay, Stay

Seventeen states and the District of Columbia now have legalized same-sex marriage and fifty-two percent of the U.S., according to the latest Pew poll, is in favor of same-sex marriage.  Yet, Michigan is NOT unique in its reservation for same-sex marriage.  Utah, Texas, Oklahoma and Virginia have also struck down amendments banning gay marriage, only to find that the decision is stayed until further notice. What does this do to the marriages or to those who are excited at the prospect of being married? Ten years ago, it was inconceivable that a gay or lesbian could tie the knot!

Quickie Marriages

Dejong noted a similar situation in California, where a judge’s ruling was stayed, but the marriages performed in the interim remained valid.  “So that’s why we didn’t want to spend a lot of time planning (the wedding) and we just had to be here (marriage clerk’s office) in forty-five minutes once we found out.”
Many couples like Rowse and Dejong are trying to fly “under the radar” in quickie marriages before the appeals courts call their marriages unsuitable.

Same-sex Adoptions

Jayne Rowse and April DeBoer, nurses near Detroit, have sued the state over being prohibited from jointly adopting their three special needs children.  Their two- week trial explored attitudes and research about homosexual marriage and households led by same-sex couples.

The state (in this case Michigan) that believes traditional marriage and child rearing practices are best for couples cited the 2012 study of Mark Regnerus, sociologist at the University of Texas to support their notion that children do best with heterosexual parents. However, Rowse and DeBoer buttressed their position with research that factors such as income and stability being equal, children fared just as well with same-sex parents.


Regnerus vs. Other Researchers

Judge Friedman found many loopholes in Regnerus’s theory that children raised in same-sex households had worse outcomes in life.  Friedman called Regnerus’s study “deeply flawed,” religiously motivated and funded by conservatives who oppose same-sex marriage.

How demeaning to have a higher court decide when and whom you can marry and whether you can adopt children?  Shouldn’t those decisions be left to all individuals?