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Michigan's 1st gay marriage license issued

Gay Marriage Michigan

MASON, Mich. (AP) -- Two women were the first gay couple to marry in Michigan on Saturday, one day after the state's ban on gay marriage was scratched from the state constitution by a federal judge.

Couples wasted no time getting to courthouses in four counties out of concern that the state attorney general's request for a stay could be granted at any time.

Glenna DeJong, 53, and Marsha Caspar, 51, both of Lansing, were married by Ingham County Clerk Barb Byrum in Mason just after her office opened at 8 a.m. Saturday. DeJong and Caspar have been together for 27 years.

"I figured in my lifetime it would happen," Caspar said. "But now, when it happens now, it's just overwhelming. I still can't believe it. I don't think it's hit me yet."

DeJong called it a day of "sheer joy," adding that Michigan should not "waste taxpayer dollars and cause more turmoil" by pursuing a stay on the ruling as Attorney General Bill Schuette did immediately after Friday's ruling.

Clerks who handle marriage licenses in Michigan's 83 counties said they would start granting them to gays and lesbians. At least four did so Saturday, and others have said they'll follow suit Monday.

Voters approved the gay marriage ban in a landslide in 2004. Byrum said it was an honor to marry same-sex couples who have waited too long.

It isn't known when a federal appeals court in Cincinnati will respond to Schuette's request for a stay while an appeal is pursued. Schuette noted Friday that the U.S. Supreme Court stepped in and suspended a similar decision in January that struck down Utah's gay-marriage ban.

"A stay would serve the public interest by preserving the status quo ... while preventing irreparable injury to the state and its citizens," he said.

It isn't clear what would happen if a stay is issued in Michigan.

After the U.S. Supreme Court's intervention in Utah, Gov. Gary Herbert ordered state agencies to hold off on moving forward with any new benefits for the hundreds of same-sex couples who married during the three-week window until the courts resolved the issue. Agencies were told not to revoke anything already issued, such as a driver's license with a new name, but were prohibited from approving any new marriages or benefits.

Utah made clear it was not ordering agencies to void the marriages, but that their validity would be decided by the Denver-based 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

Seventeen states and the District of Columbia issue licenses for same-sex marriage. Since December, bans on gay marriage also have been overturned in Texas, Oklahoma and Virginia, but appeals have put those cases on hold.

A Unitarian Universalist church in Muskegon in western Michigan had a clerk issuing wedding licenses Saturday morning. They started a couple hours earlier than planned out of concern the court would approve Schuette's request.

"We're trying to beat Bill Schuette to the punch," said Harbor Unitarian Universalist Congregation Pastor Bill Freeman, who officiated at least eight or nine weddings. "We want to get these weddings done while they're legal."

Friday's historic decision by U.S. District Judge Bernard Friedman, who said the ballot box is no defense to a law that tramples the rights of same-sex couples, followed a two-week trial that explored attitudes and research about homosexual marriage and households led by same-sex couples.

The attorney general's office emphasized the 59 percent approval by voters as well as tradition and child-rearing as reasons why the amendment should stand. Friedman, however, wasn't swayed.

He praised April DeBoer and Jayne Rowse, two Detroit-area nurses who are raising three children with special needs. They filed a lawsuit in 2012 because they're barred from jointly adopting each other's children. Joint adoption is reserved for married heterosexual couples in Michigan.

"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," the judge said.

DeBoer and Rowse said Friday that they'll get married when the case ends, a process that could take years with appeals.

"We will be getting married - when we know that our marriage is forever binding," DeBoer said.

The 31-page decision was filed in Detroit's federal court when most county offices were closed and couldn't issue licenses.

Dave Murray, a spokesman for Republican Gov. Rick Snyder, said the state has an "obligation" to defend what voters chose a decade ago.

If a "court concludes the provision of the Michigan Constitution cannot be enforced, he'd respect those decisions and follow the rule of law," Murray said of Snyder.

While DeJong and Caspar were the first couple to receive a Michigan license, it was not the first same-sex wedding to occur in the state. Two men married a year ago during a ceremony at a northern Michigan Indian reservation after the tribal chairman approved a measure.


AP reporters Ed White, Jeff Karoub and Corey Williams reported from Detroit; Mike Householder in Ferndale, Mich.; and David Eggert in Lansing, Mich., contributed to this report.

© 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. Learn more about our Privacy Policy and Terms of Use.

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msgpcastle March 22 2014 at 4:00 PM

There is a ton of people quoting the Bible here. Just remember the Bible of today is not the orginal one. It has been rewritten and translated so many times that I doubt that there is many verses that state exactly what the orginal ones do.

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3 replies
jjrb1990 March 22 2014 at 4:12 PM

Unless this effects you, your comments are useless, as is mine. Its not my style, but who am I to judge. I know a few gay people, men and women both, and have zero problem with them. Sure, I have my own opinion about how relationships should be. And its just that, my opinion. Agree, or disagree, is of very little importance to me.
And as a combat Marine Corps Vet, it bothers me even less. I would have no problem sharing a foxhole with someone who was gay. If you can shoot straight(no pun intended), ill fight with ya!
To each there own.
Semper Fi.

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4 replies
darrthom March 22 2014 at 3:38 PM

Acccording to the Williams Institute at UCLA, lesbians and gays make up 1.7% of the US population. But they get more publicity, hold more protests, lobby nealy every political group, and get more favorable treatment that any other special interest group in history. Why?

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3 replies
nurfaceart March 22 2014 at 4:13 PM

So, to all of you followers of the Bible and "Believers" I ask one simple question:

Should we stone gay people to death like the Bible says?
Or Stone to death your children because they disobey you?
That is also in your Bible! (Might want to look those up)

Or how about not eating shellfish, because that is also a sin according to the Bible.
What about being overweight? Your Bible also says that you should kill yourself if you over eat and are fat! (Look that one up as well)

And what about all of those "Believers" who re-marry after a divorce, The Bible say that if your ex spouse is still living after you divorce you cannot get re-married and if you do then you are committing adultery!

See, there is a whole lot of things in the Bible that even "Believers" do not follow!

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5 replies
dorc792 March 22 2014 at 3:31 PM

the divorce lawerys are happy...those preverts preverted minds drift from one person to another ...so retire early be a divorce lawyer...even annulments will cost ya...what a carreer to be a lawyer rite now!!

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1 reply
leea928 dorc792 March 22 2014 at 3:33 PM

How did you become such an expert on preverts?

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bentbouy1 March 22 2014 at 3:34 PM

Isnt this just precious =- nooooooooooooooooo

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1 reply
Gracie GirL bentbouy1 March 22 2014 at 7:38 PM

It's the innocent LG's that are going to gte hosed here and they didn't ask for all these laws and public comments. It's the new big mouth in your face LGBT frauds that are making all this noise for shock value and some fame from Perez Hilton and perhaps landing a new Reality series Queers gone mad.

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rlmcanoe March 22 2014 at 4:22 PM

I did not read the whole article. As far as I'm concerned you can not help who you fall in love with, and if that is a person of the same sex, so what, they should be entitled to everything that the opposite sexes are entitled to. don't judge a book by it's cover until you read the inside. maybe if you got to know some one you may not judge so harshly.

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1 reply
Deborah rlmcanoe March 22 2014 at 4:24 PM

I don't judge them I let God do that and he spcifically says it is a sin for a man to sleep with a man or a woman to do the same. Good enough for me.

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3 replies
brns772 March 22 2014 at 4:51 PM

Another State joins the repulsive action list.
God says that it is wrong, therefore it is wrong, despite how much some stupid humans say.
The truly sad part is that it is the leaders of this nation who are the leaders for this sort of moral genocide.

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3 replies
Dr. Dave Robbins March 22 2014 at 6:07 PM

What a shame. I am originally from Michigan and I just hate to see my Home State reacting this way.

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2 replies
Gracie GirL Dr. Dave Robbins March 22 2014 at 7:09 PM

Reacting what way? If you don't like it and hate to see it be glad you moved on and out! Comment on the State your in. You don't vote or pay taxes here Dave.

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Richard Dr. Dave Robbins March 22 2014 at 7:59 PM

Your right. The rest of the state is going down the $hitter just like Detroit. Corruption begets Corruption.

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ffishb March 22 2014 at 4:22 PM

27 years, congratulations. How many anti gay marriage "people" have been with the same partner that long? Not to many I'm sure

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