There’s never any way to know for sure what the Supreme Court is going to do, or what cases they are likely to accept or reject, but if I had to guess, my bet would be that they will accept the case filed on Monday by April DeBoer and Jayne Rowse, the gay couple from Hazel Park, Michigan, who are largely responsible for getting the ball rolling on legalizing same-sex marriage in Michigan.
It’s past time for the issue of gay marriage to be decided at the national, not just the local, level. The progress witnessed by the number of states that have approved same-sex marriage in recent years has been encouraging, but this should never have been a state’s rights sort of issue. Human rights can never be allowed to be OK in one state, but not quite so OK in the state next door.
The big question, of course, is whether the Supreme Court will do the right thing if and when they do agree to hear the case filed on Monday by the couples’ lawyer which asks the court to invalidate the Nov. 6 ruling of the U.S. South Circuit Court of Appeals upholding the ban on gay marriage in Michigan, Ohio, Kentucky, and Tennessee. Because to DeBoer and Rowse it somehow just doesn’t make sense to have their marriage – or the marriages of so many other gay couples – considered legal for one hot second and then retroactively tarred and feathered as illegal and illegitimate the next.
For one brief, shining moment beginning in March of this year, the marital union of DeBoer and Rowse was considered legal when U.S. District Judge Bernard Friedman lifted Michigan’s ban on same-sex marriage, thanks largely to the Hazel Park couple who brought the lawsuit challenging that voter-approved ban. Friedman’s ruling was set aside not quite 24 hours later by the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals. In August, a three-judge panel heard arguments in the case brought by DeBoer and Rowse and other similar cases from Ohio, Kentucky and Tennessee. On Nov. 6 the court upheld the ban on same-sex marriage in a 2-1 decision and DeBoer and her partner determined they would take their fight to the highest court in the land, something they always anticipated might happen.
Appeals Court Judge Martha Craig Daughtrey, the dissenting vote who openly supports same-sex marriage and made that known during the trial, criticized the majority ruling of her two colleagues and said their reasoning would have prevented equal rights for women from ever becoming a reality.
“If we in the judiciary do not have the authority, and indeed the responsibility, to right fundamental wrongs left excused by a majority of the electorate, our whole intricate, constitutional system of checks and balances, as well as the oaths to which we swore, prove to be nothing but shams,” she said.
And there you have it. And on and on it goes…
Keith Owens (AKA Black Liberal Boomer) is a Detroit-based writer who has worked for The Detroit Free Press, Detroit’s alternative newsweekly the Metro Times, the Fort Lauderdale Sun Sentinel, and other newspapers. He was also a nationally syndicated columnist with Universal Press Syndicate for three years beginning in 1993.